Sunday, June 01, 2014

France v Paraguay: match #2 for Les Bleus, some questions remain

After the flattering 4-0 win over Norway, you would think that France are already in the 1/4 finals at the World Cup. Yes it was a very encouraging win. Coming on the heels of the remarkable 3-0 win against the Ukraine and then the 2-0 win against Holland, it appears that Les Bleus are moving in the right direction. They are. However there remain some questions with this squad.

  • Injuries - Benzema reassured everyone that he is fine and will be ready to go. Fingers crossed. Varane seems to be taking normal precautions and I don't think there is anything to worry about. The real question, or fear, is how De Kaiser's back is doing. I am speaking of Ribery. His back remains a real concern, one that Deschamps has not been able to calm fears over. Per World Cup regulations, France have until 24 hours before their kick off against Honduras to replace the Bayern Munich winger from the roster. The fact we are even discussing that rule is concerning. This makes
    Let's hope it is a thumbs up with your back
    Griezmann's play that much more important to observe. How does he handle the left side of the attack? Based on what we saw last week against Norway it is positive...but one cannot assume a pattern based on one data point! Let us hope that the Real Sociedad winger continues to improve on his form and that De Kaiser's back allows him to go to Brazil.
  • The right side of the formation. I alluded to this in my last post, and it is something I have harped on for a long time - France leans to the left (on the pitch but I guess also in politics...). Even without Ribery on the pitch, the French seem to launch most of their attacks down that flank and even the right sided players, like Valbuena, tend to drift over there. While I like Debuchy as the right back since he brings a legitimate offensive threat from his right side, I have to agree with the Gooner, his defense is a little suspect at times. And without his right winger there to help with the defensive and tracking duties, it leaves that side vulnerable. Norway exposed some of that early on in the game but did not have the talent to really exploit it. For this reason I think the door remains somewhat open for Sagna. Why? While his crossing ability drives me crazy...due to his lack of success...I cannot argue that defensively he is a beast. Does DD sacrifice offense to shore up the right side of his defense? But in doing so he makes France even more left leaning. Alternatively he could also instruct the likes of Cabaye to cheat to that side of the pitch, giving more cover for the likes of a Debuchy.
  • Can the offense continue to show some bite? France's last few matches have shown some good snap with the offense. Can this continue? Much will depend on how Valbuena runs the creative side of the formation. As well as how the 3 holding midfielders continue to be able to jump up offensively. I also think we will need to see some distance shooting from Cabaye, which would really open up the game - forcing opposing defenses to extent themselves, thereby opening space for Giroud or Benzema. 
 Look for Les Bleus to come out with a similar formation as they had against Norway. One change will be Lloris in goal as the captain. We might see Sagna in place of Debuchy, but not sure. Giroud up front again unless DD wants to get some more time for Remy in that slot. Paraguay should be  slightly tougher opponent than Norway, clearly DD wants to get some run against a South American opponent, no surprise that the three friendlies are against a nation from Europe, South America and CONCACAF. See France's group opponents.

As with the last match, first priority - no injuries (see what happened to Italy yesterday) Second is to continue the good run of form from the last matches. Finally get plenty of players run during the game. As DD did last match, use all of your subs, get as many players some game time as possible.

France draw 0-0 against Paraguay. Yes bland, but I think France come back down to earth and we see classic friendly match between a team that doesn't really want to be there and one working through preparation.

Allez les Bleus

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