Thursday, August 28, 2014

Post World Cup roster looks eerily like the one from Brazil - Deschamps releases his list.

Yup, international friendlies and European Cup qualifiers are about to start up again. Get ready for whining for the clubs and some new international careers being launched. The first round of internationals are always interesting after a World Cup. How much will rosters change? In the case of Les Bleus...not much at all.

Deschamps is going with many of the players that got his side to a 1/4 final in Brazil. We knew ahead of the time that Abidal, Ladreau, Nasri and Ribery would not be included since they have all retired from international football. So the list:

Gardiens : Mandanda, Lloris, Ruffier
Défenseurs : Debuchy, Digne, Evra, Koscielny, Mangala, Sagna, Sakho, Varane
Milieux : Cabaye, Matuidi, Mavuba, Pogba, Schneiderlin, Sissoko
Attaquants : Benzema, Cabella, Griezmann, Lacazette, Rémy, Valbuena


Any major surprises? Not really. The one that is a small surprise to me is the inclusion of Evra. The former Manchester United skipper and current Juventus left back did not officially retire from international football, but it felt as if the World Cup would be his last kick at the
What? The retirement home is that way?
can when it came to international silverware. As the Gooner so willingly pointed out, Evra looked past his prime in Brazil. What would he look like in 2 years time at the Euros?? With Digne poised to become the next French left back as well as AS Monaco left back Kurzawa waiting in the wings I do not see Evra keeping a place on the roster. Of course this could be Deschamps giving Patrice his due and one more cap - France will be playing Spain on Sept 4th in Paris, a nice game to end your international career on. 


One name I thought we might see is the one of Ben Yedder. The TFC striker has been someone that is on the cusp of making it to the senior side, were it not for his joining with the likes of M'Vila and Griezmann in their ill fated night club run which lead to a suspension, he might already have received a cap. France, not a news bulletin, is thin up front. With the injury to Giroud that is either a blessing or a curse. Deschamps has the opportunity now to call up and see a number of striker options. Ben Yedder being one of them, M'Baye Niang another such player. While the Euros are still 2 years away, these matches are precious and need to be used to test some of these options.

See you in a week for the start of the international season...I know the Gooner is thrilled.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Merci Kaiser Franck - Ribery retires from national team

Les Bleus will no longer see their world class #7 on the left wing any more. Ribery announced today that he will no longer play for the French national team. This comes as a slight surprise since he had to back out of the World Cup due to injury and the next major tournament will be held in France. Ribery would have been 33 for the next Euros, certainly not an advanced age.

Ribery stated that he came to this decision to spend more time with his family as well as concentrate on his career with Bayern Munich. For Ribery, his international career will be viewed as a good one, yet one that did not live up to what could have been. He was first called up in 2006, then a youngster in France. He was looked at as one of France's up and coming players, but what he would bring to the table was not known. It was more of a selection of a player to get him into the squad, blood him for later tournaments. Instead he played a vital role for Les Bleus in their run to the finals. It was Ribery that scored the still haunted the Bayern winger a year ago! Finally the 2012 Euros saw a French team finally get out of the group stages, but lose timidly against the Spanish Armada.
His best moment for Les Bleus?
equalizer against Spain. His pace out wide opened up lanes for the other French players, most notably Zidane. Unfortunately for the Kaiser, that might have been the highest of his international career. 2010 saw France crash out of the Euros with a grand total of 1 point. We all know what happened at the World Cup in South Africa. While many point to Evra as the ring leader of the mutiny, I think Ribery had much more to do with that fiasco than was reported. There was also a lot of controversy surrounding Ribery and how he treated his teammates, most notably how he interacted with Gourcuff. Something that

In none of these tournaments did Ribery truly shine or live up to his potentially - like he showed for Bayern Munich when he came close to winning the Ballon D'Or. So we close the chapter on Kaiser Franck and the French national team. Following on the heels of Nasri announcing the same, Deschamps loses another player that he can select. But like Nasri, this might be a blessing in disguise. Ribery has shown signs of breaking down - see his missing the last World Cup due to injury. He would be 33 at the next Euro. Again not over the hill, but maybe a little long in the tooth, especially considering that there appears to be an heir to the left side of the formation - Griezmann. DD can now focus on allowing his new left winger to develop and establish himself in the role. It was a joy watching Ribery bombing down the left side for Les Bleus. Alas it did not all come together for him and the national team at the right time.

Better to retire a year too early than hang on a year too late.

Merci Kaiser Franck.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Nasri no longer in the blue for France - a complicated and wasted talent

Rumors are abound that Samir Nasri will soon announce his retirement from international football. No surprise. The current Manchester City midfielder has had a love - hate relationship with the French national team. Really more of a hate and tempestuous
The Lost Boys
relationship. Nasri is part of the French class of '87 - a collection of players born in 1987 who won the U-17 Euros for France. This class included the likes of Benzema, Ben Arfa, Menez and Matuidi (Matuidi did not make the U17 squad, but is part of the 1987 generation) in addition to Nasri.  Not a bad collection of talent. But Nasri is a perfect example for this generation - world class talent, but failure to live up to lofty expectations.

Nasri first broke onto the senior international scene when Domenech in March of 2007 against Austria. He was a key catalyst to get France qualified for the Euros in 2008. He infused a new level of youth and offensive panache France needed with the retirement of Zidane. I remember him playing a vital role in a win over Ukraine. Nasri would then find his way to the Euros in 2008. One of the two Euro tournaments Nasri would play. And one of two tournaments where his off field antics would be far more memorable than what he did on the pitch. Most notably in 2008 was his apparent lack of respect paid to French veterans such as Henry and Gallas. The fact that Gallas would refuse to shake Nasri's hand in the Premiership speaks of the riff between the two. Granted, some of this childish behavior is not one sided. Nasri would miss the 2010 World Cup - something that was probably to his benefit, then again he would have fit right in with that dysfunctional squad. Laurent Blanc would call up the mercurial midfielder once he took over the reigns. Inserting him into the heart of his formation that would take on the 2012 Euros.

Once again Nasri was more remembered for his antics than his dribbles. Scoring the equalizer against his Manchester City team mate - Joe Hart - Nasri then went on a little
Ah Samir...at least you choose the correct finger
celebratory run and made a motion to the press corp to "shut the f*** up." This gave Blanc a "fun" challenge of spin control rather than focusing on the sporting side of the tournament. France would eventually crash out in the 1/4 finals to the eventual champion Spain.

Most recently Nasri was left off Deschamps' World Cup squad, which created a minor controversy. Mostly with former France captain Vieira as well as Nasri's girlfriend! But who can really blame Deschamps choice? Nasri was not a lock to be a starter in DD's 4-3-3 formation. Even had DD used a 4-2-3-1 formation, there was no guarantee that Nasri was a lock to start. This did not sit well with the Samir. And he made this very know to anyone that would listen. Of course he would qualify his outcries by stating "any player worth their salt would want to start." True. But any national side will invariable have club stars who are not starters. Alas, Nasri's ego would not allow him to play nice in the sandbox. But his play on the field didn't make him indispensable either. Such is the story of the '87 players. Le Petit Prince - Ben Arfa has always had bags of raw talent but cannot seem to put it all together consistently. Same for Menez and one might even argue Benzema who has not lived up to the flashes of brilliance he teases us with.

So Samir appears ready to ride off into the sunset. Merci for the 41 caps you won for your nation. But you only have yourself to blame for not being a mainstay for Les Bleus.


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