Wednesday, March 26, 2008

France vs. England "Friendly" Preview

In the long rivalry between France and England, very few things can accurately be referred to as "friendly" (see...oh, history, for examples). The last meeting between these giants of football was in June 2004 during Euro 2004, which resulted in a 2-1 victory for France. Today they meet once more on the pitch, at 21:00 hours (European time; 15:00, or 3:00pm EST) at the Stade de France.

By now, everyone is aware of the more prominent stories surrounding the game - Rio Ferdinand has been named captain for the England squad, Raymond Domenech has named a 39-man squad for France for their double-header against Mali (yesterday) and England (today), and some guy named Beckham is likely to get his 100th cap for England (albeit coming on as a reserve).

Join me after the jump for the real story.

The expected starting squad for Fabio Cappello's England is:
(GK) David James
(DEF) Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Cashley Cole
(MID) David Bentley, Steven Gerrard, Owen Hargreaves, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole
(ST) Wayne Rooney (all by myseeeeeelf, don't wanna be...)

The expected England reserves are:
(GK) Chris Kirkland Robert Green (perhaps Scott Carson)
(DEF) Joleon Lescott, Jonathan Woodgate
(MID) David Beckham, Gareth Barry
(ST) Michael Owen, Theo Walcott

This means that most likely Wayne Bridge and Peter Crouch will get the shaft.

The expected starting squad for Raymond Domenech's France is:
Well, who the fuck knows. If we take into account the squad from the France v. Congo match where Domenech fielded his junior squad, I would expect the following against Mali:
(GK) Steve Mandanda (Steve? Really? When I was a kid we named our boys Pierre, Jean, and Phillipe!)
(DEF) Bacary Sagna (why couldn't you score 2 goals on Sunday?), Phillippe Mexes (see? Phillipe!), Jean-Alain Boumsong, Gael Clichy
(MID) Alou Diarra, Samir Nasri, Jerome Rothen, Rio Mavuba
(ST) Djibril Cisse, David Trezeguet (much to Domenech's chagrin, as he would prefer not to play him at all)

Considering the implications of playing some individuals 2 games in a row, the club responsibilities of certain players, and any astrological signs he reads, I would expect the following for the starting squad against England:
(GK) Gregory Coupet (this probably would have been Landreau, but he started playing like shite for Paris Saint-Germain)
(DEF) Eric Abidal, Gael Clichy (he's young, he can handle it), William Gallas (he's old), Patrice Evra
(MID) Jeremy Toulalan, Mathieu Flamini (also young, but getting creaky), Claude Makelele, Samir Nasri
(ST) Nicolas Anelka, Hatem Ben Arfa

I would expect the France reserves against England to be:
(GK) Mickael Landreau
(DEF) Bacary Sagna, Jean-Alain Boumsong
(MID) Alou Diarra, Franck Ribery
(ST) Sidney Govou

All that is well and good, but what's actually going to happen during the match? Well, it should be noted that the England squad (particularly in the midfield) is significantly older than the France squad, which, combined with the typical English style of football will probably result in a slow, physical game that looks like this:

5 minutes: through-ball from Nasri to Ben Arfa; Ben Arfa is fouled by Rio Ferdinand at 30 yards; shot from Anelka goes wide by 30 yards

12 minutes: through ball from Anelka to Toulalan; Toulalan is fouled by Cashley Cole, who is met with a chorus of boos (mostly from his Chelsea teammate Anelka); shot from Anelka is wide by 17 yards (he's zeroing in!)

14 minutes: long-ball over the top from James to Joe Cole; Cole trips over the ball when his mop-top, Beatles-esque hair gets in his way

19 minutes: short pass from Clichy to Flamini, back to Clichy (see? That's how the Gunners work!) streaking down the left side; Clichy delivers a cross one, as the bail sails to the far touch line

24 minutes: series of short passes from Ferdinand to Terry to Gerrard to Rooney (what? all that passing and not a Gooner among them? Preposterous!); Rooney dribbles in alone on Coupet, only to be scythed down from behind by Evra, who has lingering feelings of resentment towards his Manchester United teammate; Rooney is awarded a PK, and strikes the ball forcefully while Coupet shites his diaper. 1-0 England (BOOO!)

27 minutes-37 minutes: Nothing happens

38 minutes: After striding into the midfield for some light passing duty, Gallas collapses out of breath; Domenech checks the astrological chart and informs William that he must stay on the pitch for another 9 minutes

44 minutes: After having lain on the pitch for 6 minutes, Gallas gets back up to receive a pass, catching the entire England midfield off-guard; pass from Gallas to Ben Arfa results in Ben Arfa abusing Cashley Cole to come in one-on-one with David James; Ben Arfa blasts the shot through James' hands, resulting in amputation, forcing Cappello to bring on substitute GK Robert Green. 1-1.

45 minutes +2: Half-time. Cappello makes the unfortunate decision to try a meat pie and spends the entire second half on the toilet.

52 minutes: Gallas, too slow to catch up to a streaking Wayne Rooney, fouls Gerrard just as he delivers the ball; on the ensuing spot kick, Gerrard puts one into the top corner. 2-1 England (BOOO!)

57 minutes: Domenech substitutes Sagna for Gallas, and Ribery for Makelele.

58 minutes: Cappello, phoning in from the toilet, substitutes David Beckham for David Bentley, resulting in thunderous booing (curiously, only from the English supporters).

65 minutes: Cappello, wishing to embarass the French, substitutes Theo Walcott for Owen Hargreaves in an attempt to score more goals; Cappello returns to toilet after brief call

71 minutes: long-ball from Coupet to Ribery to Ben Arfa back to Ribery (and wouldn't both look nice in a Gunners kit?); Ribery blasts the ball past Green. 2-2 (ALLEZ LES BLEUS!)

82 minutes: After a long run by Lampard, Michael Owen receives the ball and turns to shoot; Owen is taken down in the box by Abidal; no call is made, and 50 million voices rise in disgust, claiming conspiracy

89 minutes: Gael Clichy dribbles the entire England midfield and takes the ball into the left corner; Clichy swings the ball into the box and it is met by Gallas, who heads it home. 3-2 France (OUI!)

90 minutes: Game ends.


The NY Kid said...

Jusr for the record, France beat Mali 3-2 (after being up 3-0), and started the following players that I tipped for selection:

(GK) Mandanda
(DEF) Boumsong, Clichy
(MID) Nasri, Mavuba, Rothen

The NY Kid said...

And the starting line-ups are set, with the following players that I tipped for selection:

(GK) James
(DEF) Brown, Ferdinand (tough one to pick, I know), Terry, Cole
(MID) Gerrard, Hargreaves, Cole
(ST) Rooney

(DEF) Gallas, Abidal
(MID) Makelele, Toulalan
(ST) Anelka

Overall, that means I correctly tipped 21 out of 33 players for the England and France A/B sides. 63.63% - I'll take it.