Beyond Zidane: a new era for French football?
This article is in English. Click here to read it in French.
The Bleus are undergoing complete restructuring after a missed opportunity at the Euro 2012 and other issues that haunt the minds of supporters and the locker rooms at Clairefontaine, the national training centre.
The latest performances from the team have us thinking that this might be a new era.
Past demons still haunt the French team
There’s the Knysna case in South Africa during the World Cup 2010 that led to numerous criticisms of Nicolas Anelka, Franck Ribery and Patrice Evra; the Nasri case; M’Vila, and also the Zahia case around Benzema and Ribery (again). The problems have accumulated off the field and the sporting results have been felt by the players.
Consequently, managers and French Football authorities have taken exemplary action, specific to each particular case. Calls to order, summons and suspensions for certain matches have been enforced upon guilty players.
New leaders to give new life to French football
Once dominated by the skills of Zinédine Zidane, the efficiency of Thierry Henry or the power of Patrick Viera, today the team is working on building a framework for the long term.
The latest matches against Spain and Italy in 2012 and Germany and Georgia in 2013 give us hope for a better future.
Franck Ribery has come back to demonstrate the full extent of his talent and Mathieu Valbuena has shown his spontaneity and effectiveness, scoring three goals in the last three games before Spain.
Certain young players are also coming to the party. Their names are Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba and they will surely be big players in the French team, as well as for Real Madrid and the Juventus de Turin respectively, where they started out.
Both playing for the first time at the Stade de France against Georgia, these young talents really gave the crowd a thrill.
A brighter future for the French team?
The public spirit and the lead up to every match are once again centre of attention. Didier Deschamps has established a closeness with the fans who can now meet and get autographs from the players before each training.
Player selection has also changed; today every position is in competition, there’s no longer any favouritism through patronage. Any young player who wants to wear the French jersey and who loves the French team can become part of the French team.
There is a good dynamic in the national team following some deep fractures. Still, the goal for the Blues is to reach the World Cup 2016 in Brazil. The team won’t redeem itself until it qualifies for the international competition.
At one stage they were hoping for direct qualification, but these hopes were quickly destroyed by the Spanish, who recently defeated the French 1-0 in Paris on the 26th of March.
This match cast doubt upon the Blues, even though they put up a solid performance and could have expected a better outcome. With the Ribery/Valbuena duo on top form, Benzema more decisive and more consistent wings, they should have been able to qualify.
Behind the attackers, Varane, Sahko and Koscienly took care of the defence and the midfielders were solid. The match against Spain almost sent the Blues to Brazil, but the Iberican Armada dominated Didier Deshcamps’ men.
Instead, the French will have to go throught the knockout stage and do without Paul Pogba (who was unfairly suspended), Matuidi and Cabaye for the next match in Georgia. Finger’s crossed that they can pull it off!
What do you think of the French football team’s new plan? Are they on the right track?
This article was translated by Emily Arbuckle.Image credits :
1. Les gradins de supporters français, by Londenp on Wikimedia.
2. Karim Benzema,by football.ua on Wikimedia.
3. Franck Ribéry, by football.ua on Wikimédia.
4. Le maillot géant de l’équipe de France, by korobokkuru on Flickr.