Saturday, May 15, 2010

World Cup - France - Part 2

Defense: It is still unclear whether William Gallas will be fit for the tournament or not. The French are weak in central defense. I am not even sure who will partner Gallas if he is healthy. The fullbacks are outstanding though. Patrice Evra, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Anthony Reveillere, and Eric Adidal would all start for almost every country in the World Cup.

Defensive Midfield: I suspect the formation of choice for a lot of team sat the World Cup will be a 4-2-3-1. France will probably put Jeremy Toulalan and one of the Diarra's in the holding positions. All three players are adequate, but it is unlikely the entire trio can get through the group stage without a red card. They can all be reckless tacklers.

Attacking Midfield: Florent Malouda and Franck Ribery will be the wingers, and Yoann Gourcuff will attack through the middle. That is an outstanding group. Pace, power, trickery, technique, and the ability to score goals from all three players. Sydney Govou and Abou Diaby are also good options coming off the subs bench.

Striker: It is hard to see anyone but Thierry Henry starting any matches up front for France, even though both Djibril Cisse and Nicolas Anelka have had better season and are currently in better form.

This is a talented collection of players, and you would think a place in the knockout stages would be a foregone conclusion, considering they are in a group with Mexico, South Africa, and Uruguay. But problems are lurking just below the surface.

As I stated yesterday, Raymond Domenech is a terrible manager, he may be the worst coach at the World Cup. This is a problem because Uruguay and Mexico are both physically imposing teams, and a lot of these players don't fancy a fight. And South Africa will no doubt be lifted by raucous home crowds.

This tournament represents a final break from the great teams that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Cup. Thierry Henry is the only player remaining from those squads. If this group had any other manager, I would predict a run to at least the Quarterfinals, and give them an outside shot of winning the whole thing. But with Raymond Domenech in charge, they will be lucky, very lucky in fact, to get out of the group stages.

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