Les Blues Struggle In Opener: Three Changes Deschamps Must Consider

Les Blues Struggle In Opener: Three Changes Deschamps Must Consider
Jun 11, 2016

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In the opening fixture of EURO 2016, France earned themselves three points with 2-1 victory against a resilient Romanian side – a side who will feel hard done by, believing they should have at least come away with a point from the contest. It was evident that the French players were feeling the pressure being put on them by the media. In fact, Romania could have easily been 1-0 up after just five minutes. A dangerous corner was flicked on at the near post, and Stancu (somehow) could not convert from two yards out, firing straight at Lloris. Paul Pogba, a player many predicted to win the Player of the Tournament award, was very disappointing. Luckily for Deschamps, and everyone else associated with Les Blues, for that matter, Dimitri Payet saved the day. The West Ham star was phenomenal throughout, getting an assist and a goal (a fantastic goal, at that) for his efforts. Payet’s individual brilliance only papered over the cracks, though, and Didier Deschamps must change something if France wants to have a realistic shot at winning the tournament. Here’s three he must consider.

 

Drop Payet Into Midfield

Dimitri Payet, as aforementioned, was phenomenal. The former Marseille man created eight chances on his own, three more than Romania did as a team. France’s midfield three, however, was not. The front three weren’t receiving enough support, as Pogba (as well as Matuidi) did not get forward nearly enough, often dropping deep to receive possession. The other two (Matuidi and Kante) are very similar players. Both are fantastic ball winners but aren’t spectacular going forward. One of them could be sacrificed to allow Payet to drop into midfield, and either Martial or Coman would then come in and fill in the area vacated by Payet on the left wing. This change would make France much stronger going forward, giving the front three support from the midfield.

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Drop Giroud

Although the Arsenal man did get himself on the scoresheet, he squandered several chances and his overall performance was poor. In the first half, Giroud only completed two passes. He was not involved nearly enough, and Deschamps must consider making a change. He could either move Griezmann centrally and Coman or Martial could come in on the right, or André-Pierre Gignac could come in for Giroud as a direct replacement. I would bring in Gignac, who is a great finisher and a player capable of scoring from anywhere on the pitch. Whoever comes in, it should be at the expense of Giroud.

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Drop Evra

Patrice Evra was not at his best last night. Romania’s right-hand side was a major strength for them. Sapunaru (Romania’s right back) was great going forward, constantly overlapping and creating an overload on that side. To be fair to him, Evra did not receive much help from Payet. For all of his great play going forward, the West Ham man did not give Evra ideal support, often leaving the 35-year-old exposed and outnumbered. However, the former Manchester United star still did not exactly cover himself in glory. In 1 v. 1 situations, Evra was constantly beaten. He also (unnecessarily) gave away the penalty, which almost cost France the victory. No disrespect to Romania’s attacking players, but if Evra can’t defend against them, how will he defend against Spain’s, Belgium’s and Germany’s? This is a serious issue Deschamps will have to address. One option he has is bringing in Lucas Digne. The 22-year-old is coming off of a solid season with Roma. Samuel Umtiti, although predominantly played centrally, is also capable of playing on the left. Deschamps could play three at the back with Koscielny, Rami, and Umtiti/Mangala, as well, but it would be harsh to drop Sagna, who was solid. Deschamps has a couple of alternatives if he does decide to drop Evra, but will he have the courage to do it? Time will tell.

France's Patrice Evra , right, grabs Romania's Adrian Popa during the Euro 2016 Group A soccer match between France and Romania, at the Stade de France, in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Friday, June 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

 

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As the hosts and arguably the strongest squad in the tournament, many saw France as favourites to win it all coming in. Their opener has raised some doubts, with the defense (as expected) looking a bit fragile, in part because Varane had to withdraw from the squad after picking up an injury. It wasn’t just the defense that was poor, though, as the midfield was arguably just as bad. However, after all of this being said, France are still one of the favourites. Getting the victory in their opener was crucial, as it will (hopefully) lift some of the pressure off of players and allow them to play to their full potential.

Les Blues still have much to prove, and after their unconvincing performance against Romania, questions will surely have been asked. They have an abundance of talent in attack and midfield, though, and if Deschamps can sort out the defense, France will have a real shot at winning it all.

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