Tag Archives: Patrice Evra

France feeling Bleu

By Ryan Fleming

Nothing is right in the French world. Even the motivational Les Marseillaise, the French national anthem, whose words were handed to each player before the match, couldn’t inspire Les Bleus ahead of Friday night’s Euro 2012 qualifier. At France’s helm stands a confused and certainly frustrated Laurent Blanc, a manager that left a once-promising club, Bordeaux, with feelings of doubt after ending the ‘09/’10 campaign with a 2-5-2 record; failing to qualify for European play this season.

France international coach, Laurent Blanc, hasn't had much reason to smile. (Courtesy cvrcak1)

Les Bleus forgot what it feels like to win and their supporters, whose passions lie undoubtedly with their national team than any domestic club, are surely fed up after France’s 1-0 defeat to Belarus Friday night. After being embarrassed in the World Cup and equally humiliating the nation that they represent, Blanc has more pressure on him now than perhaps at anytime in his past.

“The hardest thing is football is scoring. We could not do it,” Blanc told Sky Sports. “The current situation is difficult, we have to fight on.”

The suspensions handed out after the almost-literal coup d’etat that occurred internally within the team during the World Cup this summer, has directly caused the team to suffer. With the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Patrice Evra, Jeremy Toulalan and Franck Ribery out due to suspension, Blanc’s job is that much harder. Anelka’s situation, though, is a bit different.

The forward was suspended for 18 games after not showing up to a hearing in front of the French Football Federation, effectively ending his international career. A ban that Anelka laughed at.

“This whole thing is a nonsense, to turn the page because [new coach] Laurent Blanc needs to be able to work in peace,” Anelka told France Soir. “These people are clowns. I’m dying with laughter,” he added.

Anelka’s suspension is the lengthiest – 13 games more than Evra’s five-game suspension.

Despite the avalanche of trouble, there are signs of hope ahead for Les Bleus in their upcoming game against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Karim Benzema, one of France’s most lethal strikers, who was mysteriously left out of its World Cup squad, will be fit for Tuesday night’s clash. But for Blanc, he’ll need more than a striker and a national anthem to rouse his troops. The question is, when will he find it?

Ryan Fleming is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@thesoccerguysonline.com.

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France ready after miserable summer

Marseille striker Loic Remy is one of several younger players France has turned to after its disgraceful showing at the World Cup. (Photo Courtesy Fabio Dekker)

By Michael King

At the international level, 18 games is an eternity. With friendlies scattered sparingly throughout the soccer season and major tournaments only once every few years, opportunities for international success can be elusive.

And for the French Football Federation, that’s exactly the point.

The organization suspended maligned striker Nicolas Anelka, 31, for precisely that length Tuesday afternoon, effectively ending his international career.

The FFF also suspended former captain Patrice Evra for five games and handed down lesser bans to Franck Ribery and Jeremy Toulalan for their roles in the team’s off-the-field antics during June’s World Cup. Continue reading

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French Need a Revolution

Courtesy Wikicommons Safia Otokoré

By Joe Meloni

It’s odd, at the moment, to think Raymond Domenech was a Zinedine Zidane temper tantrum away from perhaps leading France to a World Cup championship four years ago.

Since the latest installment of the World Cup began 10 days ago, absolutely nothing has gone right for France, and it’s easy to pin the lame-duck Domenech as the guilty party. Piecing together a list of his poor decisions in France’s games thus far isn’t as difficult as, say, finding any good choices he made. Not selecting Karim Benzema or Samir Nasri for a team in desperate need of creativity with the ball or choosing not to play Thierry Henry or Yoann Gourcuff in a game his team would lose, 2-0, stand as some of the most obvious complaints supporters of Les Bleus have of the flighty manager.

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The Only Derby: Liverpool vs United

Rafa will need to lead Liverpool a win on Sunday against hated rivals Manchester United if he hopes to keep the clubs championship hopes alive. (Courtesy Nigel Wilson Flickr)

Rafa will need to lead Liverpool a win on Sunday against hated rivals Manchester United if he hopes to keep the club's championship hopes alive. (Courtesy Nigel Wilson Flickr)

By Kevin Koczwara

Manchester United head to Anfield this weekend to hopefully put and end to Liverpool’s title chances. A win for United would be the knockout punch for Liverpool, putting them down for the count with little to no chance at winning The English Premier League for the first time in 20 years.

A Liverpool loss would be their fifth in a row and could the final straw for Rafa Benitez — especially with rumors of Jose Mourinho filling his shoes swirling (he isn’t loved in Italy by any measure). Benetiz needs his side to perform the level that everyone expects of them, because it is believed he is at fault for the poor play of recent.

The way the match-up is working out right now is the efficient United are going into a floundering Liverpool–hampered not only by form but by injuries. That scenario could lead to one of two things:  A United blow-out, or a tightly contested game with a lot of cards handed out, and physical play.

Let’s look at all the factors coming into this game:

Injuries

Liverpool have the bigger question marks here.

If Torres isn’t fully fit come Sunday, then Liverpool are dead in the water because they don’t have another striker on their bench who can put the pressure on Nemanja Vidic, and any fear at all in the United back-line. If David Ngog starts, then surely Liverpool will be reaching for some attack and praying to the heavens.

Their best option to fill-in for Torres if he isn’t fit to go would be starting Ryan Babel on one side outside midfield position and Albert Reira on the other, with Voronin and Kuyt playing off one another. Kuyt, despite his stature, wins so many balls in the middle through hard work, can gain possession. And Voronin (I hate that I am saying this) is maybe the best option they have the bench for this situation. He is quick, and assertive. He doesn’t hold onto the ball too long and is looking to show the manager what he is made of. So he is a better fit than say Ngog or anyone else on the bench for this game.

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