Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Good win for Les Bleus - sit atop group I with the full 6 points

So Les Bleus sit atop of Group I after day 2 of qualification...mind you Spain only played one game! More on that later. After getting a deserved 1-0 victory away to Finland, France returned to Paris to secure the full 6 points from 2 matches with a 3-1 victory. As always there were some moments of nerviness from Les Bleus, but they secured a much deserved victory over Belarus.

The Good:
Jallet gave France some much needed width on the right
  • I realize I might sound like a broken record, but the victory and full 3 points is good. France clearly was the better of the two nations, but you still need to finish and get one more goal than the other side! Les Bleus were able to put 3 past the Belarus keeper. Had Sakho been more clinical on two clean headers from the 5 yard box the score line could have been more flattering. But in the end, maximum points secured.
  • The play of the Kaiser Ribery dictated the flow of the match. He scored the final goal to boot, but was very active on his left flank as well as drifting to center of the pitch. His pace and passing put the Belarus defense on its heels much of the game. The French game tends to lean heavily on the left side and no surprise why. Of course for Les Bleus to take the next step there must be a balance...
  • Which brings me to another good mark from today the play of Benzema on the right and Jallet. I was skeptical of having the Real Madrid striker align himself to the right of the formation. However what I saw was positive. He actually did keep himself fairly tight to the right wing, allowing space for Giroud and attacking off that flank. More encouraging was the fact that when he cut into the middle, Jallet was making his runs down the right side to support the attack and provide additional width to the attack. He also scored what was a fantastic strike, but really appeared to be a cross gone wrong. But who cares! The result was a goal. While I think Debuchy remains the #1 choice right back, the play from Jallet and the return to health from Sagna as well as the steadiness of Reveillere allow Deschamps some choices for that role.
  • Another solid game from the central defense of Mbiwa and Sakho. I realize that the Montpellier captain gave up a penalty, but overall both players demonstrated why Deschamps is entrusting them with securing those spots. Both players seemed to always be perfectly placed on the pitch, anticipate well and are strong in the air and in challenges. Now if only Sakho could learn to finish better! Add to this the play of Lloris, who made a brilliant save at the start of the second half and was unlucky after stopping the PK not to keep the ball out of his net. This trio is a solid back foundation from which Deschamps should be able to build upon.
The Bad:
  • I realize it might be a head scratcher, but the poor French finishing remains bad. You might say, but Frog they scored 3 goals! They should have had more. Sakho missed two wide open headers from inside the 6 yard box. Not only that, but too often I felt the French looked to make a pass rather than take a shot on net when they got into the 18 yard box. They have to, especially against a team such as Belarus, test the keeper, look for rebounds or a keeper mistake to score more goals. Against a higher quality side you will not be afforded as many chances, so when you are presented with a clear shooting chance, take it.
The Ugly:
  • France's drop in concentration was a tad concerning. After going up 2-0 on a wonder goal by Jallet....okay it was really a cross gone bad...but still was a great goal, Les Bleus seemed to just ease off the accelerator and drop in concentration. This led to the PK and subsequent Belarus goal. Unacceptable! Against any team, once you go up 2-0 you need to look for the 3-0. Or if you are going to play defense, then lock things down. You cannot let a player just make a run within the 18 yard box causing a foul which leads to a PK. Again, against better opponents this will not be allow to go unpunished!
So France end the first round of qualifiers with a full complement of 6 points. Next stop...Spain on the 16th of October. A big match for France to say the least. Could have had even greater implications had Spain not found a last moment winner away to Georgia. Spain could have even lost that match, Georgia hit a post late in the first half! France will have to look to come out of Spain with any type of result - a draw would do them just fine. While many, including myself, think that France will still have to get through a play off to go to World Cup 2014, there is a chance...albeit a small one. Spain cannot feel great after struggling against lowly Georgia, might France be able to take advantage of this? To be determined in 5 weeks.

Allez les Bleus!


Anonymous said...

Spain team is now false number 9...France become Striker less Team...Strikers did not produce goal in from long time... Last one year Banzama did not produce single goal for France in competitive games...


GFC said...

I think Spain is unique in their ability to play without a true #9, even though they do have 2 world class strikers in Torres and Villa.

I think that having Giroud on the pitch as the #9 was helpful, he did latch on to a coupe of crosses, one of which was a decent bid to open the scoring. Long term Les Bleus need to get one of these strikers going.