Monday, June 08, 2015

Can a 4-3 loss feel like a pseudo win? Les Diables Rouge almost give it away

Well how is it possible that you give up 4 goals, almost give up a fifth when Lukaku smashed a close shot off the post in the 62nd minute, and not feel completely dejected?? That is what happens when you also score 3 goals, of which two came in the last few minutes of the game...and where Courtois had to make a solid reflex save off a deflected France shot in injury time. Anyways....I have been remiss from posting but here goes the analysis.

The Good:
  • Les Diables Rouge - There was very little good from Les Bleus...but their northern neighbors were very good. Okay. Good until they forgot how to defend and made the last few minutes more tense that had to be. The Belgians have a talented and scary starting 11. It all starts with Chelsea star - Hazard. Unlike with his club team (thanks Jose) he has more freedom to roam for his national side. This freedom allows him to showcase his world class touch, shiftiness, creativity and pace. He is world class. But there is more talent than just Eden. With the likes of Bentenke and Lukaku up front, Fellaini, Vertongen and a world class keeper in Courtois there is some serious talent available for the Red Devils. With the pitbull - Nainggolan - patrolling the midfield there is some additional snarl on the field. The Belgians did not have their captain and sweeper - Kompany either. The youth system continues to produce some talent, the Anderlecht youngster - Dendoncker - coming on late to earn his first cap. Currently sitting in the second spot of the FIFA rankings, this side has every right to believe they should head to the Euros next summer as one of the favorites. The question will be - do they have the depth to win the tournament and can they play as favorites. But clearly they are a team to watch. 
  • Well that is about it for the good....okay okay...I will say the French substitutes of Payet, Fekir and Ntep were good. Well maybe not 100% good but I need to find something good for Les Bleus. The three Ligue 1 youngsters brought some pace and offensive creativity to a French
    Only bright lights of the night?
    side that appeared flat most of the game. I was especially impressed by the pace of Ntep. I am not sure if he will have a legitimate challenge to taking that starting slot, but he seems to offer a nice option as a game changing substitute, someone that can create a lot of problems for a tired defense late in a game. Fekir's work rate and creativity were also noticeable. He was rewarded for his efforts by potting his first international goal. Same goes for Payet. While I have never been the biggest fan of the OM player, he did show well today.
The Bad:
  • Ugh, not sure why, but France still struggles with a solid central defensive pairing. Individually and for their club, I like both Varane and Koscienly. But for some reason whey they put on the France shirt they seem to lose some brain cells. Kos gave up a penalty kick that felt like it was due to being lazy and out of position. While Varane seemed to be overwhelmed at times by the Belgian attack. They both have the talent...just not sure whey it does not get translated when they play for France.
  • Speaking of defense...once again the French outside backs were lacking in their crosses. My frustration with Sagna's crosses is well documented, but I was a bit shocked that Tremoulinas was just as bad. I did like the former Bordeaux fullback's pace and willingness to jump into the offensive end. But both outside backs kept pumping in crosses...that went nowhere. Ugh. I guess that is why the likes of Evra remain in the conversation.
The Ugly:
  • Sloppy play...I should have known from the start that the game was going to be ugly when France took the opening kick off and passed it to no one really looked that engaged. There was very little in terms of linking up play or of any real sustained attack. Valbuena made some good runs and had some decent passes...but no one followed. Giroud looked lost alone and frankly at times uninterested. Cabaye showed some efforts but it appears that his lack of time for PSG is showing. Just ugly. All around. 
Well let's put this game behind us. France were dominated by a team that was not necessarily more talented but have two aspects France seem to be missing: 1)A world class player, Hazard for Belgium who for France? 2)A team that plays as a team. Deschamps still has a year to try and develop the latter, not sure the former is available. Lots of work ahead.