Monday, June 02, 2014

Ribery's back - what to do with the French left winger

One story line that will not go away, and is really just picking up steam is what to do with Ribery. I mentioned this after the draw against Paraguay, but it appears that the health of the left winger's back is a legitimate concern, less than 2 weeks out from the start of the World Cup. By some accounts it appears that the Bayern Munich star is closer to staying home than he is to going to Brazil. So what is Deschamps to do?

First, I think there is nothing to do until DD absolutely has to make a change. Per FIFA rules, DD can wait until 24 hours before the first match against Honduras on June 15th to make a change. Unless Ribery is 100% certain to not be fit for the World Cup, why do anything official.

I do believe, or maybe hope, that DD is working on a plan B in the back ground. Who would slot in on the left if Ribery cannot go? Which player would he call up to fill the vacated roster spot? Will he have to change his tactical thinking?

  • It feels as if DD is using these preparation matches as a dry run for the possibility of not having his left winger. Starting both Griezmann and then Remy on that flank against Norway and then Paraguay. Both players demonstrated that they bring some value to the formation and can more than handle themselves on the left. Also, leaving in Evra for the bulk of the two matches shows me that DD wants to ensure his left back gets accustomed to playing with different combinations in front of him. If Ribery cannot go, my vote would be to have Griezmann get the nod over Remy. Why? First I think the Real Sociedad player is a much more natural fit at left wing. A natural lefty (yes I
    My back is just fine really
    know Ribery is a righty that likes to play on the left) who seems comfortable at that role. I also like Remy's ability to play at the top of the formation or on either flank as an option coming off the bench.
  • With regards to who fills the spot if Ribery is left at home, that is an interesting question. The pure offensive players he has on his reserve list are Lacazette and Cabella. Looking back, it might be telling that Deschamps gave Cabella some run during the Norway match. The player is a natural attacking midfielder, but could play on the flanks as well. He does possess some pace and dribbling ability. While Lacazette is more of a top of the formation player - center forward or winger. Both players are right footed. As of right now I would bet on the Montpellier midifielder to get the call if Ribery cannot go. I think that DD will want a player that can single handily take on defenders and break down defenses...a big component of Ribery's game. 
  • Speaking of breaking down teams, I do not think this will change France with regards to tactics. What it will do is place more pressure on the shoulders of Valbuena as the creative fulcrum for France. Another reason why I see Cabella taking the spot if Ribery cannot play is the potential need for another creative playmaker in the mix. If De Kaiser cannot go to Brazil I also expect more offensive responsibilities to be asked of the three musketeers - Pogba, Cabaye and Matuidi. Which will also mean the likes of Pogba needing to consistently give 90 minutes. Something he can do, but must do with more consistency. 
 Without Ribery not all is lost for Les Bleus. I still think their chances of getting to a 1/4 finals are good. After that I still do not like them advancing past Germany. The question for Deschamps is what happens in a week if Ribery is not 100% but 75%? Based on what DD has been saying, he expects his player to be ready for the Jamaica game next Sunday. But what if he isn't? Does DD hope he can be ready by the knock out rounds? France has been down this path before - 2002 World Cup Zidane picked up a knock in the last warm up game and was not ready to play but was kept on the roster. France go out in three games. I would argue France went out of the World Cup for more than just Zidane being hurt. For some reason Lemerre decided to leave Micoud on the bench rather than starting the creative midfielder and playing him in the role he was so successful at in the Bundesliga for Werder Bremen. I would have played Micoud behind Henry and Trezeguet, with Petit, Vieira and Makelele as the midfield trident. But I digress. Same thing in 2008 when Domenech decided to bring an injured Pat Vieira to the Euros. Again a tournament France crashed out after 3 games, and again not solely because of one injured player who could not play. That tourney was 100% on Domenech...gets me mad just thinking about that fool.

Deschamps will have a difficult decision to make in a week or two. He should be preparing for the worst - no Ribery and hoping for the best - De Kaiser being close to 100% by the Honduras match.

Allez les Bleus!

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