Friday, March 22, 2013

France have a very successful day - now all eyes are on Tuesday's game versus Spain

Les Bleus emerge from today's match up again Georgia with the full compliment of points and a pleasant surprise - a Spain draw at home against Finland. This places France alone atop the group heading into the match up with the defending World Cup champions. France will enter Tuesday's match up 2 points up on Spain. This will give Deschamps some options when it comes to what strategy he looks to leverage against the Spanish. More on that later, but first some thoughts on the game against Georgia:

The Good:
First cap - will they earn #2 on Tuesday?
  • 3 points from the victory..okay I realize that is stating the obvious. But heading into the match I was nervous that a)Georgia would just park the bus in front of their goal b)could threaten on the counter c)France might be looking ahead to the Spain rematch. Les Bleus started very fast and I thought looked like they would open up the scoring early - Ribery had a wonderful offensive display end on the wood work. And probably should have had an opening goal had Giroud not made hash out of a 1v1 in the 29th minute where he ballooned an attempted chip. Of course the Arsenal man did break through right before the half on a lovely little free kick from Valbuena that Giroud buried for a 1-0 lead. The second half saw France build upon their score line to finish with a relatively comfortable 3-1 victory. End of day - 3 points.
  • The rookies - Varane and Pogba - both received their first starts and caps. A lot of noise was made when the Real Madrid and Juventus players were selected by Deschamps. Even more noise built up this week as it appeared that one if not both could be starting. Both players did more than just take up a spot on the field. Granted Varane was never really placed under threat, although Georgia did show some offensive spunk. However Pogba really impressed me. He clearly has the technique and power to control the midfield and do much of the dirty work. He offers a nice contrast with Matuidi in the midfield. It would be interesting had M'Vila not been an idiot and were still part of the senior squad this season. Pogba even contributed to the offense showing off his big leg with a nice strike from distance in the first half. The future looks bright for these two players. It will be interesting to see if one or both start against Spain.
  • The veteran wingers - Ribery and Valbuena - both looked energized, had bags of pace, tricks and offensively minded. The both created major headaches for Georgia. Add to this both scoring goals and the game was good for the former and current OM players. They will need that level of activity and success on Tuesday when they face Spain.
  • Jallet was impressive on the right flank. He was always available to jump into the offense, provided some solid crosses and tracked back well when he had to. France tends to lean to the left on attack - where Ribery likes to set up shop. To have a player like Jallet who can push the game on the right side gives the team some much needed balance. As the game wore on his crosses were not as effective, but overall was a real presence in the French game.
  • Finally how can one overlook the captain Lloris? The Tottenham keeper showed how important it can be to have a world class back stopper. He made 2 huge saves early on - off a free header and made a strong save on a vicious shot. If he does not make these two saves who knows what happens. He was not able to keep a clean sheet, but not due to his error.
The Bad:
Haven't seen this in a long time.
  • The struggles of Benzema are becoming a real issue. He has not scored for France in what seems like years...oh wait I think it has been! Last time he score was June 5th 2012...okay maybe not years...but feels that way. Especially for a striker of his raw talent. The weight of this streak is clearly impacting the Real Madrid striker. He had some clean looks at goal, getting two 1v1 opportunities and both times being too timid with his efforts. He continued to work hard all game. If he continues to do that the goals will come...but it is becoming a bad part of these games for France.
The Ugly:
  • Following on Benzema's troubles is an overall ugliness when it comes to French finishing. Yes Giroud had a goal, but he butchered an early effort when he found himself alone against the keeper and chipped into row Z. Benzema had some weak attempts when he found himself in excellent scoring positions. Too often Les Bleus tried to be too cute, rather than just putting the ball on goal. Yes France scored 3 goals, but it should have been 4 or even 5. Against a side like Spain if France does not take advantage of their opportunities they might come out with a positive result.
Overall a positive result. In addition none of the players on a yellow picked up another card - in particular Matuidi. The fact that Spain was held to a draw at home was the final positive that came out of today. Of course none of that will mean too much if France lose to Spain on Tuesday. The other positive - France are close to guaranteed to at least qualify for the play offs if they do not finish first in the group.

I will be curious to see how Deschamps approaches the game on Tuesday. Does he stick with his 4-4-2? Or might he go back to a 4-2-3-1 and look to add to his midfield to counter the Spanish midfield? This weekend will be interesting with regards to how Deschamps gets his troops together. Finally will the youngsters Varane and Pogba get another start? I think the Juventus midfielder has the best chance to finding himself in the starting line up of the two.

Allez les Blues. 


Anonymous said...

France was in new Jersey...where is the good looking all White Jersey..Please comment something abt kit


GFC said...

That is the new France kit, it will be their road strip. I think it is quite appealing. The warm ups are also sharp.

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