Monday, June 16, 2014

France get the necessary 3 points...what a change from 4 years ago

Ooof, Les Bleus secure the essential. Playing the weakest team in the group they did what they had to...get the win. And they did in a workman like fashion - they won by 3 goals but could have been a heavier victory.

The Good:
  • Benzema - amazing that this is his first World Cup, granted he is probably happy to have been left off the squad from South Africa. Not only did the Real Madrid man score a brace (could have been a hat trick had the OG from Valladares been given to the French striker) but he was ever present on the offensive end. He was ever the threat, slipping behind the defense on numerous occasions and dangerous on the diagonal runs. His second goal was one from a striker in full confidence. From a wicked rebound he was able to pounce and strike from a ridiculous angle. If he can keep this form running...look out.
  • For once, Les Bleus did not have a lot of drama surrounding the team and game. It feels as if the past few tournaments have had their fair share of drama. Much of this was a direct link to the idiot manager France insisted on keeping for 3 tournaments - Domenech. But even the last Euros with Blanc at the helm, there was drama in the first game and that was only magnified with Nasri's "shut up" gesture directed towards the press after scoring the equalizer against England. As I said in the opening, France were workman like. They did what they had to do to win the game.
  • The 4-3-3 is chugging along...and keeping France's best players on the pitch. Not that I had any doubts but it was good to see it in full effect. And it really worked because of Benzema up front. He was able to hold up the ball well even when being double teamed. Griezmann and Valbuena did well in their channels, and while they were never really under tremendous pressure they back tracked as they were required. It will not be as easy moving forward, but the formation and line up seem to be working. The reality with Benzema on the pitch is that he is a tremendous offensive talent when things are right...but he does not track back. If he plays on the left with Giroud in the middle that creates a potential defensive hole...something to keep in mind.
  • The new kids did not look out of place. The youngsters of the starting line up - Griezmann, Varane and Pogba did not look out of place at all. Remember that all three of these players could have been at the U20 World Cup last year. Pogba was there and captained France to a world title (Varane was injured and Griezmann was suspended). Pogba had a good game, not great, but good. More on him later. Griezmann was on the end of a cross early on that found its way to a cross bar. Varane was not really called upon, but I did like seeing him going into a hard 50/50 at the end of the game when the result was no longer in doubt. He also provided a glare directed at the Honduran striker that showed he was focused and certainly not intimidated.
  • Goal line technology...the second goal was determined to be a goal based on the new technology. Watching the play in hi-def it was almost impossible to determine whether or not the entire ball had crossed the goal line. From the naked eye I would not call the shot a goal...but that is why the technology is in place. Oh what a difference it would have made 4 years ago during the England - Germany match!
The Bad:
  • This might be knit-picking...but French finishing. Yes they scored 3 goals. But they hit two cross bars and I still do not know how Matuidi did not score in the second half where a slick cross from Evra fell right onto Matuidi's run. Only to see the PSG midfielder hit the wrong side of the side netting. Add to this a few cross bars and what was a 3-0 could easily have been 4 or 5. Not vital for this match, but France need to be more clinical with their chances since I doubt they will have an easier match than this one moving forward.
  • Yellow cards. The game in the first half was vicious. Lots of hard tackles and some thuggish play from Honduras. France took the bait at times and some key players picked up yellows - Cabaye, Evra and Pogba. In these tournaments these card picked up early can come back to haunt a team hoping to get to the knock out stage with their full compliment of players. For a game so one sided you would not expect to have this many cards to go along with the victory. 
The Ugly:
  • Pogba's tussle with Palacio was ugly. I was texting with the Gooner and I agree
    Pogba please meet the underside of my boot
    with what he stated that Pogba could have easily gotten a red card for his kicking out. Granted Palacio was playing like a goon. Clumsy in his tackles and reckless. But no excuse kicking out. Beckham received a red card for a much less violent kick out in 1998. Pogba needs to watch himself. He is young and plays in the middle of the park. So he is regularly around the ball. I also think he will be targeted by the opposing teams for "special attention." Trying to knock him off his game.  This will only intensify as France continues in this tournament. something the Juventus midfielder needs to be aware of.
So a good result for Les Bleus. They got the 3 points and even gave themselves a nice goal differential. The next match will most likely determine who finishes top of the group. Many have stated that both sides will be content with a draw. Not sure about that. More on that as we get closer to the match. 


Anonymous said...

why Menz is not in this team. Is thre any attitude problem like Nasirii.....I think he is perfect replacement for Rebery....



GFC said...

Menez was a bench player at PSG, not getting a lot of run in Ligue 1. I think that is what kept him off DD's radar. Also he is really a right sided player so not a like for like replacement for the likes of Ribery.