Bonjour my fellow Gooners. With the World Cup running, we all miss our Arsenal. Fortunately, our players are in duty with their national team. Especially the French, who I’m pleased to follow in another World Cup journey. And as you (may) have seen, Koscielny, Giroud and even Sagna, are doing really well.
Didier Deschamps, French boss, is on his way to (re)build a strong and efficient team. As a former iconic skipper of “les Bleus”, Deschamps is fully committed to a task he dreams about since his early years as pro. Meeting between Deschamps and this job was inevitable. As I say very often, he’s the right man at the right place, not only because he won a huge amount of silverware (including, “excusez moi”, a World Cup and a European Championship), but because he puts his duty far above all the rest. Deschamps wasn’t a player who “entertained”, he was a leader, the kind of guy who gives his team mates the flame to stay strong, even after 120 minutes of fight. The heart and soul of this incredible French team of 98 and 2000 is now on the bench, and he’s delivering the same energy to his players. Even Michel Platini, the mastermind of French Team in the 80’s, failed to do so in 92 when he became France’s boss. That will give you how high is Didier Deschamps in French Football history. And also explained how deep this team went to find the strength to qualify after defeat in a first round against Ukraine.
Let’s put the point first about Bacary Sagna. When a player left the club, specially after a long time, it’s always difficult for the fans. I can understand the frustration of many, but I don’t share the abuse. Sagna was always loyal to this club, gave 8 years of dedication. And for that, I will always be indebted to him. Back to the WC, he played the full game against Ecuador, with several good crosses.That was the last game of the group, and France was already qualified and Deschamps made a lot of changes in personnel. Even if Debuchy seems a starter in Deschamps’s mind, Sagna is ready and able.
On a same aspect, Laurent Koscielny played the full Ecuador game, plus a 20 minutes against Switzerland. Clearly, Deschamps is considering Laurent as a sub, which can be a kind of a shock for many Arsenal fans. Truth is Deschamps is fully aware of Kos’ top quality, but the French Boss aimed to create a defensive duo for Euro 2016. His choice to pair Varane and Sakho is also logical, assuming the two are the same age and playing in every every French national teams since the youths. Koscielny came on the scene relatively recently and never played in young national teams. Anyway, no surprise, Laurent was solid in each game with France. Bar the post friendly games, where he did very well, he came on play very late against Switzerland. France was already leading the game by 5 goals, and players were not fully focused. Two goals were conceded but Kos was good at the back. For the last group game against Ecuador, Laurent played the full 90 minutes alongside Sakho, then Varane. As usual, Kos was impressive and perfectly focused, especially in 1 Vs 1. As the famous @ArsenalColumn wrote after this game : “1v1 against Koscielny is a game of bluff. He’s so unassuming, stands upright, waits for attacker to make his move all the while attentive”. Still, Koscielny can have won his starting position for the next round, assuming Sakho could be banned for an elbow during the game.
Last but not least, Olivier Giroud has doing a massive job with France. The striker was on the positive wave of his season. Even if Benzema is above in Deschamps’s mind, Giroud has played in two occasions alongside the Real player. And these two occasions were a friendly against Jamaïca and the game against Switzerland. For the record, France scored 13 goals in these games, with two goals and two assists for Giroud. The real test was against Switzerland, where OG was starter for the first time in a World Cup. Olivier scored the opener on a fine header in the middle of the park. Then, he created a whole chance around the 40th minutes : denying a Swiss’s cross in his own box, he gave the ball to Varane, then started a massive run on the left side. At the end of the counter, he delivered a perfect assist to Valbuena for the 3rd French goal. With Deschamps’s favorite 4-3-3 layout, Benzema is much likely to start every game as a lone striker. However, France’s efficiency when using 4-2-3-1 with both Giroud and Benzema is very interesting. In that case, OG becomes a target (as Wenger said few days ago : “With movement around him, each ball he received can be a deadly one”) and Benzema moving from left to the middle and using space. It will give Deschamps a different way to start a game, or to push for a result in a last-20-minutes run.
France is now moving to the next round, and will play Nigeria next Monday. The African champion is a very strong team, with a couple of good offensive players and an incredible goalkeeper. France should avoid to be complacent (and trust Deschamps to put pressure on players for that) against a difficult opponent. French players have skills, talent and team spirit to perform and reach the quarter-final, where they surely meet Germany. But one thing at a time.
Finally, I want to ask every gooner to help me with my new Koscielny’s song. I found decent words for it, but I badly need a tune
“His name is Koscielny
but you can call him Kos, Kos the Boss
And when he’s around,
you can’t score nor you can’t cross
But before end of the round,
you will eat the grass, surely
His name is Kos, Kos the Boss
When Suarez came with his Golden Boots
Number 6 said “No !” and put him in his socks
And ‘till the end of the round,
you can’t see not even a tooth
His name is Kos, Kos the Boss
And when with Per
he’s making the pair
Every Gooners wave their hands in the air”
Thanks for reading and “à bientôt”