Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ouch...Les Bleus streak of qualification in serious jeopardy

After having to play in a qualifying group that included Spain, France had to also have a miraculous reversal after dropping a 0-2 playoff game away to Ukraine, to get into the World Cup in Brazil. Looks like the next round of qualifiers for the World Cup in 2018 in Russia will be even tougher for Les Bleus. Since France feel to the second pot they knew they risked drawing a big fish as head of group...which they were served by getting the Oranje of Holland. To make things even more tasty, the French will also have to face off against Zlatan's Sweden...toss in Bulgaria and you have some serious hurdles that France will have to overcome to get to Russia.

The group A teams:

Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, Luxembourg

France's schedule:

6 septembre 2016: Biélorussie-France

7 octobre 2016: France-Bulgarie

10 octobre 2016: Pays-Bas-France

13 novembre 2016: France-Suède

25 mars 2017: Luxembourg-France

9 juin 2017: Suède-France

31 août 2017: France-Pays-Bas

3 septembre 2017: France-Luxembourg

7 octobre 2017: Bulgarie-France

10 octobre 2017: France-Biélorussie
The only positive aspect is that France get to face one of the weakest nations in the group first, get tested against Bulgaria before having to take on Holland. But there is very little else that is positive with this draw! It will be a tight race for head of the group, and second place will be a real dog fight. Luxembourg and Belarus will probably have no hope about sniffing qualification, but Belarus will act as spoiler. Bulgaria and France will most likely fight it out with whoever drops from the Holland - Sweden tandem for second place. Not a great group for France....Much will be expected from what happens next summer during the Euros. Can Les Bleus find their form? How will they fare being at home? And will any success...assuming they find some....carry over into the qualifiers? Lots of questions and lots of gaps that Deschamps must resolve not only for next summer but for beyond.
This is what you get when you under-perform for years...ugh. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Les Bleus get what they deserve...tough road ahead for qualifiers

No one should be surprised to see France being in the second pool for Russia 2018 World Cup qualifications. Anyone watching the last few months of this national side might even wonder why they were not dropped to the 3rd or 4th pool With home losses to Brazil and Belgium, the second one being an absolute fiasco and then ending the international season with a dreadful lose away to Albania, there is no surprise their ranking has dropped to 22nd in the FIFA rankings.

The pots:

Pot one: Germany, Belgium, Holland, Romania, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, Croatia.
Pot two: Italy, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Denmark, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Pot three: Poland, Ukraine, Scotland, Hungary, Sweden, Albania, Northern Ireland, Serbia, Greece.
Pot four: Turkey, Slovenia, Israel, Republic of Ireland, Norway, Bulgaria, Faroe Islands, Montenegro, Estonia.
Pot five: Cyprus, Latvia, Armenia, Finland, Belarus, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Moldova.
Pot six: Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Georgia, Malta, San Marino, Andorra.

So Les Bleus could have Germany, Belgium, Holland, Portugal or Spain at the top of their group! They did qualify for the last World Cup with Spain also in their group. So it is by no means a death sentence.

The scariest draw for Les Bleus: Germany, Sweden, Turkey, Macedonia and Georgia.
The best draw for France: Wales, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands, Cyprus and Andorra.

Regardless of the draw this qualification campaign will be a real test for this side. They are not looking very good a year away from hosting the Euros, but at least they will have home field and that by itself should at least get them out of the group and may past one knock out round. But this side is clearly still trying to define itself, who does it build around, where will the goals come from and who is the leader on the pitch? 2018 is a long ways away, but the reality is the preparation and groundwork starts now.