Wednesday, March 05, 2014

France v Holland, same old same old...except for one Spanish wrinkle

This evening France will be back at the Stade de France, where a little over 3 months ago they might have enjoyed one of their greatest matches of recent history. After being down 0-2 to Ukraine, Les Bleus accomplished what appeared to be the impossible - winning the return leg 3-0 and qualifying for the World Cup. After receiving quite a favorable group draw in Brazil, click here for the group, the sun seems to be shining a little brighter on DD's men. Now comes an opportunity to build on this good feeling, but against a stern test - Holland.

Walking around Paris yesterday I already saw some of Oranje's fans walking around...all in Orange! There is a quiet build up around here for the match. No surprise, how can one expect any where near the intensity and emotion that took place against the Ukraine. This match, regardless of the outcome, cannot live up to that emotion. However it remains an important test for DD. This is the last time Deschamps has a chance to look at some players
Ribery's future replacement?
before he needs to settle on his list of 23 for the World Cup. What is of note, is the probably start given to the newbie - Greizmann. With Ribery nursing a minor knock, look for the quiet star from La Liga, who does not play for Real Madrid or Barcelona, to get his chance out on the left. What the formation should resemble:

Back to the 4-3-3, which is a good thing. The possible line up -

L’√©quipe probable des Bleus : Lloris (cap.) - Sagna ou Debuchy, Varane, Koscielny, Evra - Pogba, Cabaye, Matuidi - Valbuena, Benzema, Griezmann.

It will be interesting to see if Sagna regains his place on the right. I have debated this with the Gooner with regards to the Arsenal's man form. I prefer having the Newcastle right back on the right side. Why? He brings much more of an offensive punch to the formation, is his defending suspect? According to the Gooner yes, I am an not so concerned. It is also more important for France to have some balance and some offensive punch on the right side since they seem to always struggle to keep some balance - tending to always lean left. Of course without Ribery in the line up it will also be interesting to see if France is more balanced without their talisman player on the field. The other big question is whether or not Evra can still hold his side on the left, if he cannot France does not have many options that are World Cup ready. I think Digne will one day become a fixture there, but not sure if that time is in less than 100 days.

We cannot read too much into this match, I doubt either side will be 100% motivated to run around and try to put on a beautiful match. What we can and should focus on is how Deschamps uses his roster. Will we see Digne? How will Griezmann do on the left? Will Valbuena hold his channel on the right or without Ribery on the pitch will "Le Petit Velo" free lance and roam around the pitch even more? Is Benzema back to where we need him to be? And will Kos-Varane be the central pairing we should expect in 100 days?

Much will be learned on these points after the match, of course much has probably already been learned by Deschamps during training sessions.

Allez les bleus!


J-F said...

That win was so good to watch. Everything went right for us today. This and the Ukraine match have been a nice change of pace. It's been a rough ride since that red card in Berlin.

GFC said...

Two excellent goals, but game lacked some pace and flow. But I will take the win! See my latest post on the match.