Wednesday, November 20, 2013

INCROYABLE...Les Bleus head to Brazil

What else is there to say? France do what seemed impossible and get the 3-0 victory to get past the pesky Ukrainians and head to Brazil next summer for the World Cup. Incroyable.

The Good:
  • Heading to the World Cup. What else is there to say? France have not missed a major tournament since the 1994 World Cup in the United States. They were able to come back after being down 0-2 after the first leg. Something that no European team had ever been able to achieve. The drama that would have swept over the nation had the failed to qualify, while good in a way, would have been a circus.
  • Sakho. What a beast. He only started because of the red card Koscielny picked up away in Kiev. The former PSG central defender put together the game of his life. He was a rock on defense and scoring a brace was something no one could have ever predicted. Did we get a glimpse of the future center back pairing for France? Varane and Sakho have the potential of
    Not a bad time to score your 1st...and 2nd goals for France
    being the bed rock for Les Bleus moving forward. Speaking of the Real Madrid center back, Varane demonstrated his silky smooth play. He demonstrated a level of calmness usually reserved for veteran players. 
  • Speaking of playing at a level beyond their age, Pogba, has quickly established himself as one of the core players for France. The captain of the U20 World Cup champions showed why he should be the foundation of the French midfield for years to come. Between his ability to break up any offensive threats coming through the midfield coupled with the offensive threat he offers, dare I say he resembles Pat Vieira? Other players have been given that moniker but the Juventus man seems to be the real deal. Couple that with his recent play for the Old Lady and one can only get a tad excited about his prospects.
  • The top 3 of the formation. The line of Ribery - Benzema -Valbuena were outstanding. Ribery looked completely different than the player that was bottled up in Kiev. Benzema looked like the striker he is supposed to be. And Valbuena was deadly on set pieces.
  • The formation: 4-3-3...as the Frog has been calling for, looked like a success for France. Especially since it allows Deschamps to field three of his better assets - Cabaye, Matuidi and Pogba at the same time. The key was to get Cabaye on the field. His defending and distribution were clinical. His presence also allows Pogba to jump up into the offensive end as well as, to a lesser extent, Matuidi. With the likes of Mavuba, Sissoko, Capoue to name a few, in the wings, I think that Deschamps should look at staying with this formation moving forward.
The Bad:
  • Tough loss for Ukraine. After doing the essential at home they seemed odds on favorite for going through. Has to be seen as a bad loss for the former Soviet state.
  • Offsides calls...so things balanced out in the end a Benzema goal disallowed for an offside call that didn't exist and then a goal granted when he was clearly off side. However, on the goal the side line official was screened by the Ukrainian defender and the ball does appear to come off a defender in which case there would be no off side as the defender played the last ball. But unlike what happened 4 years ago against Ireland, the "hand of Gaul" will not dominate the head lines...
 The Ugly:
  • France's consistency...where has this team been for the past few years? Is this the direction where the team is trending? Games like last night are why being a French fan is maddening. They can lay an egg like they did in Kiev and then turn around an look like a world class side last night in Paris. The French malaise in terms of consistent play continues to haunt this side. If they cannot remedy this they will continue to have nights like last night. Nights of unbelievable jubilation, but nights that were the product of their own maddening inconsistency. Les Bleus need to find a way to bottle the way they played last night, maybe not at that intensity since that cannot be maintained, but use it as a template for how they should approach their play moving forward. It is this inconsistency that could make France a 3 games and out next summer or one that surprises and goes deep in the tournament. 
And we celebrate...
 So I will enjoy this victory, one I did not expect to see. I fully expected the French to give up a late goal and to endure another Bulgarian fiasco.  Thankfully I was spared that fate. Now on to December 6th where we will see which group France get placed in. Since they will not be a head of series they could easily find themselves in a group with the likes of Brazil, Germany or Spain...but that rant is for another day. For now we celebrate!

Allez les Bleus!!!!

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