Monday, October 10, 2016

Netherlands 0, France 1 - France hang on after goal from Pogba

Deschamps kept the same team:

Griezzman Gameiro
Payet Matuidi Pogba Sissoko
Kurzawa Koscielny Varane Sidibe

Second half substitutes were Martial for Payet around the hour mark, then Gignac for Gameiro, and Kante for Griezmann at the very end.

Pogba scored from distance in the first half, and the team needed it. They were never very close to scoring a second - a pass over the top from Pogba to Gameiro was the next best chance, and one of the few times Gameiro got in the game.

There were incidents that could have gone as penalties against France, and the Netherlands created a few chances, so it was lucky to escape with the three points.

France looked better overall, so there was a tension of expectation that they should be able to translate their talent into more scoring opportunities and goals. Something is missing from the attack. Martial getting more minutes might help, and the players overall could play with more of the confident attacking intent that Martial brought.

France were solid, but they were often playing well away from the goal, a lot of sideways passing in deep midfield. It's a patient approach that worked today, but it felt like they would have really regretted not going for a second goal more seriously if they had conceded.

The closer the team gets to goal, the less there seems to be a plan. In the short time Martial was on, he had the idea of some give-and-gos to create something, and it sparked some potential chances. At the same time, when those don't come off, it can set up the other team for a counterattack, so I should learn to appreciate the patient approach as well, perhaps.

Pogba had a great match, and that should put him on the right path for future matches.

Sissoko was consistently half-threatening. He sees a lot of the ball, and it often looks like something could come of it, but while the end product is never there, the potential threat keeps the opposition on the back foot, and helps to see out the game.

Friday, October 7, 2016

France 4, Bulgaria 1

Early on, Sagna got a head injury. One of those where you check the back of your head to see if it's bleeding. Then he was slow, unlucky, tired, and conceded a penalty, and Bulgaria were up 1-0 early (about 6 minutes in).

Then Sagna canceled out the penalty he had conceded with a great cross for Gameiro to head home an equalizer. Sagna was replaced soon after by Sidibe.

Gameiro Griezmann
Payet Matuidi Pogba Sissoko
Kurzawa Koscielny Varane Sagna

Substitutes: Sidibie for Sagna, Gignac for Gameiro, Fekir for Griezmann

The second goal came from Payet: a cross that crept in at the far post when Griezmann couldn't quite reach it with a header.

The third goal was a gift: the defender passed it to Griezmann, and he scored from the edge of the penalty area, hitting the inside of the post (nice placement).

The fourth was a great goal. Sissoko made a run, Kurzawa was brilliant in setting up Griezmann who was able to set up Gameiro for a tap in. Yay for Kurzawa. What a player, at least in attack.

Pogba was a bit dodgy at times. He's not in the best form, but still had good moments.

Varane looks great. Overall, almost everyone looked great throughout. Bulgaria had no joy. Perhaps Gignac could have done more. Players such as Coman and Martial are stuck on the bench so he can get minutes; he should be staying onside.

A double for Gameiro takes his France tally to three in his first start in five years. He probably shouldn't have been frozen out for so long, but he has a chance now, and will likely be starting again soon. Holland also won 4-1 tonight, so Monday's match should be a tasty battle for the top of the group.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

World Cup Qualifiers

World Cup Qualifiers in the next week:

Friday, October 7th, France host Bulgaria

Monday, October 10th, France visit Holland

Through one game so far, Bulgaria is top of the group with three points, and France and Holland each have one point.

France have gone through two consecutive official matches without scoring: the Euro 2016 final against Portugal and the opening World Cup Qualifier against Belarus. Deschamps does a fantastic job of keeping the team stable, but we are often missing a spark. Payet and Griezmann had some big moments during the Euros, but the collective attacking play has plenty of room for improvement. Here's hoping. Enjoy the matches. I always do.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

World Cup Qualifying - Belarus 0, France 0

It's fun to be back to official matches so quickly. Matuidi has been dropped, replaced by Kante, and Sissoko has kept his spot on the right.

Varane is back in defense, with Koscielny, replacing Umtiti (or Rami).

Martial started on the left ahead of Payet, but Payet came on for Martial before the hour mark.

The new fullbacks played again: Sidibie at right back and Kurzawa at left back.

Kevin Gameiro is back in the team, getting a late run replacing Giroud as striker.

And the new winger who replaced Sissoko during the match is Dembele, who plays for Borussia Dortmund. I'm not sure what's happened to Coman. Dembele looks like an exciting player.

Giroud Griezmann
Martial Pogba Kante Sissoko
Kurzawa Koscielny Varane Sidibie

I'm also not sure where Lloris is.

During the second half, France came close to scoring multiple times. During much of the first half, the team played similarly to how they played in the Euro final against Portugal, lacking conviction.

Belarus playing at home looked like they could get a goal themselves, so it's arguably lucky to escape with a point.

I feel like Deschamps could be doing more to help the team work out a way to play, to find a path to goal. It still looks like he's just picking a team and sending them out there. Still, though, there was a long period of sustained pressure during the second half when France might have scored, so it could be worse.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Italy 1, France 3

Just a friendly, the first since losing the Euro 2016 final, and I'm having trouble getting past Kante being benched for the semi-final and final. He looks like one of our best players.

Goals from Martial, Giroud, and new left back Kurzawa. Kurzawa also had the assist for the 2nd goal, so well done to him.

Winning 3-1 away to Italy is good stuff. Well done, you blues.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

France 0, Portugal 1

Soccer is a funny game. In the first 15 minutes, it looked like France was far superior, but they just didn't want to score. Portugal grew into the game, and France faded. It was similar to France beating Germany in the semifinal.

Sissoko, who I voted against starting, was the most lively, but with no end product. Coman, when he did come on, looked fantastic, but only for the first 15 minutes or so.

France came close to scoring, but had no luck today, where we had good luck earlier in the tournament.

If Deschamps had taken took off Payet in the first match as early as he did today, we never would have had the brilliant winner that kicked off this run to the final.

Deschamps, and most coaches I guess, leave it to the players to figure it out themselves. So Pogba did what he had to do, and played defensive midfield. Sissoko saw everyone else was too nervous to play, so he moved from the right into the middle, and tried to score himself.

Both teams hit the wood work before Portugal finally got their goal.

A win would have been nice, but a run to the final deserves to be remembered in its own right. France was brilliant in the 2006 World Cup, only losing on penalties at the end after having been the better team. France was easily the better team for most of this final, but the final ball just wasn't there.

Disappointing, even frustrating, but the best way to put it right is to get out onto a soccer field ourselves, and show them how it's done.

Today's final

The buildup to the final today has focussed on Griezmann, and to a lesser extent Pogba, perhaps clearing the way for a big match from Payet. Ahead of the tournament and in the group phase, he was France's best player, so as strange as it sounds, he could be the secret weapon.

As well as Sissoko has done, I cannot get past my impression that Coman would be a better option on the right. Likewise with Matuidi, I think Kante has slightly more to his game and would make a better pick with Pogba in central midfield - maybe I am wrong and it would upset the balance, but I think Kante deserves a start.

Also in the buildup, Portugal are being portrayed as rank outsiders, which makes me curious to see how they look. They must have been disjointed to this point.

At the back, Umtiti got rave reviews for his performance in the semifinal for breaking up play, so he should keep his spot.

Finals are tense. I am nervous myself.

Enjoy the match.

Update: No changes to the France starting 11 from the quarterfinal and semifinal. Those 4 first-half goals sealed it. Bear in mind that was against Iceland.