Four days until WC, and nothing solved with France

Can they "finally" work together?

Going into the friendly matches, France looked like they might do better than most experts expected. With a solid win against Costa Rica, France looked to continue their pre-World Cup momentum against Tunisia and China. With a 4-3-3 that worked well against the Costa Ricans, surely the formation would work against less admirable opponents like Tunisia and China.

Well, it didn’t. Problems with the formation in both matches lead to confusion, both offensively and defensively. And with the problems in both of these games, many French supporters must be wondering if the experts are right…could France possibly not advance out of the group stage?

The players that Raymond Domenech called up seems to be in contradiction to the type of play that is required in the 4-3-3. As was pointed out by James Eastham in his article explaining the problems with the current system, the full-backs will be prevented from pushing forward. When France is down and needs to find a way to get out of a hole, pushing up Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna gives France that little bit of extra attack that they need to control the offensive tempo of play. With this system, pushing them forward will even be harder.

Why is it harder? Well, with the left and right midfielders holding their positions in the 4-3-3, both Sagna and Evra really  have no place to move. If they were to take control of the ball, their only logical move would be to past it to whatever midfielder they are working with on that side. Therefore, the 4-3-3 takes away an entire dynamic on the team (attacking left and right backs) that should make France a strong force in Group A. Instead, it might just cause more problems.

In addition to the left and right backs not being able to push up, now you are forcing Gourcuff and Malouda to have an increased defensive role. Alright, maybe these player can do a good job with holding the ball, and we might see some sort of ‘surprise’ out of their play in these positions. But, as of right now, it doesn’t really seem like these would be my choices at the left and right midfield positions in a 4-3-3. So who would you put in those positions? Good question, as for now Malouda and Gourcuff are the best for those positions.

Nothing good comes out of this situation. With these players being reduced as an offensive threat, this will shift attention to another problem that France has to face…William Gallas and Eric Abidal. Throughout the last few matches, Abidal’s move to left-center continues to look like a poor decision by Raymond Domenech. Not only does he not look natural in that position, he also seems to have a lack of communication with Gallas. For whatever reason, the pairing of the two just doesn’t seem to work.

Therefore, in the last three friendlies, you would figure that France would maybe switch things up a little, see who works better where, look at some different type of formation. Nope, Domenech being the stubborn mule that he is, will stay with the same system, the same formation and the same players that were barely good enough to squeak past Ireland to get to this point (and I am sure we will here more than enough references to Ireland in the upcoming World Cup broadcast).

Therefore, I hope that I am wrong but I fear that I am right. The stubbornness of Domenech, the lack of commitment from most of the players, and decent opposition from Uruguay and Mexico might see France head home early. The first game (which is only four days from now) will tell everything. If France can hold their own against Uruguay and pull of a victory, they are in good shape. Otherwise, if they draw, they might still have a chance, but it will be quite a bit harder.

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