martedì 1 luglio 2014

Deschamps' tactics change worked

For Didier Deschamps, the turning point happened when French coach decided to pick Antoine Griezmann in the place of Olivier Giroud to join Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena as third forward. Deschamps’ first choice was to start striker Olivier Giroud up front, switching Benzema in a left-winger position. With Benzema coming back into his favoured spot as centre-forward, French 4-3- 3 made much more sense and France looked as a totally different team. Deschamps took the risk by selecting a three forward system featuring two pure strikers. There was a sense of balance through this decision, a will to don’t displease neither Benzema or Arsenal’s forward. Benzema’s uneffectivess on the left was clearly showed, especially with the team out of possession. Honestly, this kind of 4-3-3 can be still working should the left interior midfielder be able to slide laterally in the way to provide the needed defensive support. It wasn’t the case as Blaise Matuidi didn’t provide effectively this kind of work. Nigeria’s right-back Efe Ambrose got a lot of space to exploit going forward down the line, providing a numerical edge on French’s left flank when paired to Peter Odemwingie against the lone Patrice Evra. France could have been introduce a holding midfielder in the zone of Matuidi or switch the PSG’s midfielder with Paul Pogba, being the Juventus’ football more a ball hunter than Matuidi. Also, against Stephen Keshi’s 4-2-3-1, the defending 4-4-2 French utilized without the ball was outnumbered in the middle of the pitch. Keshi’s approach was particularly interesting. Nigeria’s manager didn’t ask to his side to sit deep. Instead, Keshi wanted Nigeria press the op position high up the pitch, then play quick transitions. He fielded a very offensive oriented team featuring Mikel John Obi and Ogenyi Onazi in front of the back line with Ahmed Musa and Odemwingie operating in wider areas with Victor Moses just behind centre-forward Emannuel Emenike. Nigeria started well, had their chances, often attacking France’s full-backs, and were impressive in the first half. Generally speaking, Deschamps’ side showed a lack of width in the first half, as the pic clearly point out. Both Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena didn’t provide this width, playing narrowed. That was expected from Valbuena who is usual to drift inside with cutting movements that lead him into a ‘number ten’ spot behind the forwards. By the way, with both Benzema and Valbuena moving into a into clever position, the spaces for Pogba and Matuidi’s runs through the channels were reduced.  Things improved when Deschamps inserted Griezmann withdrawing a vacuous Giroud. The Real Sociedad winger provided the needed width. The World Cup rookie, 49 goals out from 179 appearances with his club, was positioned on the left side. He changed Deschamps’ gameplan, allowing Valbuena more freedom and giving Benzema the opportunity to exploit his favourite run through the middle of the defence. Also helped the fact that Nigeria lost Onazi, an influential presence in the middle of the field, who was forced to leave due to an injury. All those things combined helped France to take the control of the game and to dominate the final part of the game. That said, the game changed when Deschamps reshaped his initial formation. French coach is expected to take note from it and this game could have ended his experiment with a narrowed 4-3-3 featuring one pure striker out wide. 

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