Saturday, September 08, 2012

Deschamps opens his account - France get the 3 pts from Finland

So the games count now. And Deschamps and Les Bleus leave Finland with the full 3 points in their bag. The essential was done. France could have won by a larger margin...or lost.

The good:
  • The win...yes I realize it is over simple, but getting the full three points to open the qualifying campaign is nothing to sneeze at.  After a lackluster draw against Uruguay, it was important for Deschamps to get his side to get a positive result. Mission accomplished.
  • Arsenal's #2 - Diaby - had a monster game. Clearly the former Auxerre midfielder demonstrated the talent and skill that are in those boots. What has always been maddening about the player is not his talent, it is his ability to stay on the pitch. Diaby controlled the middle of the park and provided the creative link between the defense and attack. He opened his account with Les Bleus as well on a wonderfully weighted pass from Benzema. Let's hope, both for France and Arsenal, that Diaby stays healthy and continues to demonstrate his skill. 
  • The French center back pairing of Sakho and Mbiwa did not dissappoint. While the PSG man was caught sleeping early on allowing Hämäläinen to break in on Lloris...of course that is also the play where Mbiwa came back to make a saving tackle. Otherwise both Ligue 1 players were absolute rocks controlling the back line. They covered well for the fullbacks' mistakes, were strong in the air and made the important tackles. Mavuba also showed well as cover for the back line. Makes one wonder if Rami has lost his place as a starter.
  • Once again the captain Lloris, demonstrated what a calming force he is for Les Bleus (I am shocked that AVB just said he was Tottenham's #2...). While the new Lily White did not have a whole amount of work to do, he made the saves when called upon. In particular his reflex save late in the game off a Finnish header - granted it hit him square but that is 90% of keeping - putting yourself in the right place. His presence in the French goal remains a positive and a consistent.
The Bad:
  • Someone needs to remind Benzema to stay higher on the pitch!  Once again I saw the French #10 drop deeper on the pitch. There were some string of plays that Benzema stayed high in the formation, that really opened up space for Ribery and Menez, but he did not do this enough. He did get some good service from the wings, but was not able to get on the score sheet. 
  • Both French wings did not show well. Menez and Ribery did not provide the consistent pressure and offensive punch off the wings.The PSG man in particular was invisible for much of the game. Ribery seemed frustrated in the treatment he received from Finland. The Finns were consistently double teaming him with both the fullback and a midfielder. One would think that would open up some space for the other players.
The Ugly:
  • France getting caught out...this could have made things very ugly for Les Bleus. Were France playing a more efficient team, say Spain, the mistakes and the breaks allowed would have proven much more deadly. Too often Les Bleus allowed the ball to turn over in the midfield and gave the Finns the chance to break. The midfield has to be tightened up.
  • French goal scoring. One goal gets three points but not necessarily a good feeling. Les Bleus had their chances to add to the score but once again failed to really threaten the goal. With Benzema floating deep, this clogs up the midfield and also does not create space on the wings for the wingers or overlapping fullbacks. Does Deschamps need to look at integrating a Giroud or Gomis to hold that #9 role? It worked well in the day with Trezeguet and Henry, Trez played at top of the formation while Henry would be allowed to cut in from the left or drop deeper. Granted they had a certain Zidane feeding them the ball. But Les Bleus need to solve this malaise soon...or we could struggle.
France will face off against Belarus this Tuesday. They need to get another victory, end this round with the full 6 points. It will be interesting to see what Deschamps decides to do against the Baltic nation. At least they head home with the full three points.

Allez les Bleus!

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