Lakenheath Old Boys

We are all former students at Lakenheath High School and other public schools in East Anglia. We were in school in the 70s and 80s and drank deeply from the well of British culture of those decades - the pints, the telly, and of course the footie!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Euro 2016 Preview - Group A: France

Wahay! It's that time again, boys. I'm beginning my 20-day preview of the festivities in France this summer with a look at the hosts who sit at the top of Group A. Let's have a look at "Les Bleus," shall we?

Nickname: "Les Bleus" ("The Blues")

Absurd FIFA ranking: 21st!

Coach: World Cup winning skipper Didier Deschamps

Match Schedule: 

June 10 - France v. Romania (Saint Denis-Paris, 3pm EST, ESPN)
June 15 - France v. Albania (Marseille, 3pm, ESPN)
June 19 - France v. Switzerland (Lille, 3pm, ESPN)

Prospects: France's quarter-final finish (where they were beaten by eventual winners Germany) at Brazil 2014 earned Didier Deschamps a contract that will last through this tournament. The French, as usual, have an embarrassment of riches through the middle of the park, with veterans such as PSG's Blaise Matuidi as well as younger stars such as Juve's Paul Pogba; however, they are wobbly at the back with Arsenal's Laurent Kosnielny and Manchester City's Eliaquim Mangala the likely starting center back pairing. But the real problems are the lack of goals up front, relying overly heavily on Olivier Giroud, who's had an indifferent season at Arsenal. Deschamps was a water-carrier as a player and he manages his side that way as well, so don't be surprised to see Atletico's Antoine Griezmann, who just fired his side into the Champions League Final, used as a lone striker. It will be interesting to see if West Ham's Dimitri Payet or Leicester City's N'Golo Kante feature after spectacular Premiership seasons.

Key Player: Juventus star Paul Pogba, who is unbelievably still only 23, makes Les Bleus hum. If he plays well, they play well.

Youngster to Watch: 19-year old Manchester United starlet Anthony "Kung Fu Panda" Martial has the grace and ability of a young Thierry Henry and would be in my starting XI; but will Deschamps use him?

Who Will Get the Goals: Griezmann should be the outlet, but he's got a poor strike rate for Les Bleus (7 in 26); there are plenty of goals in this side and they'll likely be shared around.

Who Will Get the Cards: Mangala gets a bit tangled up at times; also a good shout for an own goal.

Prediction: France have been awarded one of the easier groups in the tournament, so it's plain sailing through to the Round of 16 where they'll meet a third placed team and the Quarters where they'll meet Wales or perhaps Hungary. Not enough power to get past one of the tournament favorites in the semis, though.

2 Comments:

Blogger manunitedrules said...

Agreed. I think France can make a run in this tournament, but winning the whole thing is a tough ask despite Les Bleus being the host nation. I wonder what is the origin of the term, Kung Fu Panda. I would solve their scoring problem by bringing TH14 out of retirement. France could be exciting withe the likes of Paul Pogba , Griezmann,and some karate chops, but alas, that will all be curtailed.

12:54 PM  
Blogger The Blue Devil said...

Could be interesting if England slip up - they could easily meet in the quarters. A France v. Wales match-up could also test them.

1:41 PM  

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