ANALYSIS: Defence enough for fortunate France

Alan O’Brien 

Despite never coming close to engineering a cohesive team performance, Didier Deschamps possesses the World Cup trophy for the second time. Individual talent, shining through at both ends of the pitch, dragged France to glory. Croatia, who executed their gameplan to near-perfection, can only reflect on what might have been. Continue reading

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PREVIEW: Vrsaljko has what it takes to vanquish France

Alan O’Brien 

Over the course of this captivating World Cup, only Spain have favoured the left flank more than Croatia. But if the Vatreni are to spring an upset, and emulate La Roja‘s first-time triumph in 2010, a change of tack is needed. The path Zlatko Dalic chooses will ultimately decide his nation’s fate: the right fork may lead to glory, but the left will surely invite the wrath of Kylian Mbappé. Continue reading

ANALYSIS: Martinez’s Belgian waffle finally falls to France

Alan O’Brien 

Little of the laudatory coverage hailing Roberto Martinez’s apparent tactical victory over Brazil made any sense. Belgium’s haphazard hybrid shape offered up chance after chance to Tite’s wasteful troops on Friday. France, just as defensively sound as Brazil here, simply did not suffer the Selecao‘s incredible misfortune. Finally, therefore, Martinez was made to pay for his hubris-fueled tactical codology. Continue reading

ANALYSIS: France go forth as Tabarez reverts to type

Alan O’Brien 

Having allegedly swapped “la garra charrua” for “o jogo bonita“, Oscar Tabarez reverted to type here. Uruguay’s ultra-defensive outlook made for a depressingly dire spectacle from which France, still less than the sum of their star-studded parts, were still fortunate to emerge. Continue reading

Euro 2016 Day 6: France’s 4-2-3-1 flops; Russia’s midfield muddle

France’s 4-2-3-1 flops

Didier Deschamps’ last dalliance with 4-2-3-1, prior to May’s warm-up friendlies, saw his France side crash to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Albania in June 2015.

The French manager’s memory must be as short as his passing range, as the same configuration completely failed to threaten the same unheralded opposition in the first half at Stade Vélodrome on Wednesday night. Continue reading

Four things we learned from France vs. Romania

Set-pieces and left back zone are problems for fragile France

Prior to last Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Scotland, Didier Deschamps’ France conceded six goals in three games against the Netherlands, Russia and Cameroon. Romania, a side whose limited attacking ambition secured them only 11 goals in 10 qualification games, also managed to expose the hosts’ glaring defensive frailties. Continue reading