So here we are then. A continuous football feast is upon us, Hallelujah. Who knows what lies ahead for the twenty four teams participating in this month’s European Championships. Can Northern Ireland or Turkey emerge as dark horses and cause some surprises? Will it be the Zlatan show? Do England really stand a chance under Roy?
All questions will be answered in good time.
One thing that is for sure is that the hosts France; are a force to be reckoned with this time round. A decade has passed since Les Bleus last creditable performance in a major tournament losing on penalties to Italy in the 2006 World Cup Final; Head’s gone for Zidane!
Didier Deschamps will have been in charge of the National Team for 4 years in July, here’s why in my opinion he could well be celebrating in style.
As a passionate Englishman it is of course built into my DNA to not want France to succeed at Euro 2016. But as a Human concerned with the safety of others, I hope that the French put in some solid performances in the group games. Of course footballers are not miracle workers, but a strong campaign at Euro 2016 might help to unite a broken nation.
As hosts of the Championships, France have been placed in Group A alongside Albania, Romania & Switzerland. This is not a group of death, France should be topping the group with ease. Antoine Griezmann could find himself with the Golden Boot before the next round has even begun.
Right then, now that I have touched on the serious aspect as to why it would be good to see France succeed. Let’s get into the pure footballing reasons why France should go far over the next month.
Deschamps is expected to set his side out in a 4-3-3 formation allowing for upmost flexibility and creativity. I’ll discuss Griezmann, Payet et al later on, France’s strength lies in their midfield so that’s where I’ll start.
There isn’t any other team at this summer’s Championships which has an engine room quite like France. The talent is staggering, the list is endless. Use whatever superlatives you like.
Matuidi, Kanté and of course Pogba are all tough tackling colossal players on the pitch. They dominate games from the first to the last minute, it would also appear that they have an unlimited energy source too (Jealous!). So IMO it’ll be 2 out of 3 who start . Recently Deschamps had been starting Cabaye as a defensive midfielder who can spot a pass and help pull creative strings sitting behind Pogba & Matuidi.
It would be very easy for the national manager to stick to arguably the best midfielder in world football at the moment in Pogba and the very reliable Matuidi. So credit must go to Premier League winner Kanté for having the season of his life and playing himself into Deschamps plans.
‘Polpo Pogba’ (Paul The Octopus) as he is affectionately known back in Italy to the Juventus supporters, is on the verge of having the tournament of his life. He is one of the most complete midfielders France and Europe have seen in a decade, since the retirement of Zinedine Zidane. With his explosive nature, he’s capable of turning defence into attack within seconds, either with extraordinary vision or just with the ball at his feet. He is undoubtedly a weapon and will only continue to get better with experience. The architect of the French National team for the next 10 years.
I briefly touched on Antoine Griezmann earlier on but the Madrid front man is clearly a striker bang in form. 44 goals in the past two seasons with Atlético shows he’s a Forward France can depend on during the Euros.
Who joins Griezmann in the front 3 is up for debate, personally I would like to see a Front 3 of Martial and Payet on the wings with Griezmann played through the middle. This would obviously lead to Oliver Giroud being demoted to the bench, which in this current climate would be the preferred decision from many of Les Bleus fans.
With a three of Payet, Griezmann and the ever impressive Martial it would allow a Front 3 to continuously interchange with one another for the full game pulling opposing players out of position and creating space. In my opinion, Giroud wouldn’t benefit the team, he’s a superb target man for the French but it doesn’t allow completely free flowing football when he’s in the team.
On a side note too, with Payet in the team they have arguably one of the most dangerous men in World Football from a dead ball situation. Some of the free kicks Payet has scored over the last year have been sensational, I’m sure given the opportunity he’ll continue his hot steak at the Championships too.
We won’t have long to wait to see how the French line up against Romania on Friday evening and more importantly how they deal with a expectant French crowd. I feel this time, they might deliver.
Thanks for reading,