Sunday, June 01, 2014

Les Bleus hit a pothole on way to Brazil - some issues to deal with.

France leave the south of France with a 1-1 draw versus Paraguay. A French team which controlled and dominated most of the game, but some lack of finishing. End of the day no injuries and a result like kissing your sister...blah.

The Good:
  • If this was a hockey game, my #1 star would go to Giroud. The Arsenal striker showed his quality and most noticeably in the air. He was called upon to receive the ball high up the pitch and distribute to the attacking wingers and midfielders. Something he did with aplomb. He could have had himself a goal in the 82nd minute on a header off a corner, which did lead to Griezmann's goal. He was also cheeky in the first half on a cross to Remy which was almost a high light goal in the 32nd minute. Giroud's play over the last two games make it a legitimate question as to whether or not he should start over Benzema. Time will tell.
  • The French defense, for most of the game, was solid. Kos and Sakho looked very comfortable. Sakho made some strong defensive plays in the second half that snuffed
    Rock at the center of French defense
    out attacks from Paraguay. Kos playing the role as the launching pad for counter attacks. The wide players, Evra and Sagna, did their job and were solid in the offensive support on the flanks. Although I still wonder if it is worth sacrificing the offensive punch from Debuchy for the defensive strength of Sagna. Lloris also showed the importance of having a quality keeper, making a strong save on Samudio's direct kick in the 55th minute. Lloris was also strong in the air. The goal was not his fault. More on that later.
  • No injuries. After what we saw in Ireland this weekend, where Italy lost their starting midfielder, Montolivo, due to a broken leg. Teams have to play these matches, but there is always that fear of injury. Let us hope that France ensure the health of their squad heading to the match against Jamaica. 
The Bad:
  • Pogba, not that the Juventus midfielder was terrible. What was bad was his inconsistency. He seems to drift in and out with regards to his intensity. There is no question in his ability, when he wants to he is the heir to the Pat Vieira moniker. However sometimes he seems to get frustrated or lackadaisical with his play. This was clear at the end of the game where he seemed to get lazy and frustrated. It was his foul that lead to the Paraguay goal. Pogba needs to keep his intensity and focus at a high level, like he did last summer when he led the U20 French team to a World Cup title.
  • Haven't said this in a few games, but the French finishing was not good. There were some good looks at goal, but clearly not enough goals. Really not even that many testing shots for Silva to face. Remy had a number of chances, Matuidi and the aforementioned Giroud as well. France cannot afford to waste so many chances where they don't even test the keeper. Something to keep an eye on. 
The Ugly:
  • Argh so frustrating...why can't France defend set plays? The Paraguay goal by Caceres in the 89th minute was in large part due to awful defending on a set play. Where were the French central defenders??? Sagna was the closest defender...isn't he of small stature compared to the likes of Kos or Mangala? I did give the French defense some praises but they also deserve blame on the goal. Les Bleus have plenty of height to defend such set pieces, so why the still can't seem to do so on a regular basis is frustrating, to say the least.
  • The drama from the Paraguayan players. So frustrating. Between Silva's silliness at the end of the game or Paraguayan players flopping whenever there is any contact, real or fake. Les Bleus better get used to such histrionics if they face similar South America sides.
So Les Bleus "drop" a game against Paraguay...ok they didn't lose, but the game left a bad taste. Add to this the continuing saga about whether or not Ribery will make the trip to Brazil and you have a day that did not leave us with as much feel good as we had after the Norway game. Much will be known over the next week, especially with regards to Ribery.  See you in a week when Les Bleus face off against the Reggae Boyz. That will be very telling.

Allez les Bleus.

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