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|EURO 2012 Analysis: Les Bleus eliminated as Blanc strategy misfires|
The way the Les Bleus started the tournament, one would expect them to make it to the semi-finals of the tournament at the very least. Confident passing, beautiful movement, intelligent positioning and considerable flair, Laurent Blanc’s side had everything. However, the 2-0 loss to Sweden seems to have had a damaging effect on the French morale.
The France team that faced Spain in the Quarter finals was a feeble one, one which lacked the ambition to go the distance. Very often the case with this new generation of the French squad, once again the Les Bleus failed to put up a worthy fight. Laurent Blanc opted for a controversial strategy to tame the La furia Roja, but inefficiency from his players meant that they were swept aside by their mighty opponents.
Laurent Blanc took a controversial approach to the game by fielding two right backs in order to nullify the threat of Jordi Alba on the wings. France started the game in a typical 4-3-2-1 formation with M’Vila Malouda and Debuchy playing deeper with Cabaye and Ribery in an advanced position behind Benzema.
Debuchy was deployed into a unique role of covering the Lyon fullback, Anthony Reveillere and doubling up on the Spain fullback, Jordi Alba. Blanc’s idea was to force Spain to play through the middle which would allow the French to control the proceedings with a five man midfield. However, it’s safe to say that the French were outplayed in their game. It was Jordi Alba whose marauding run down the left flank led to the goal that gave Spain the lead.
The Les Bleus were pretty average in the first half and failed to put a string of passes together. Continuously pressed off the ball, Blanc’s men depended upon long balls in order to force something out of the Spanish defence. The French side lacked adventure, creativity and simply ran out of ideas as one mistake led to another.
It was a similar story in the second half as the opponents drained the life out of the incompetent French side. Blanc would have been utterly frustrated and arguably furious with his side’s performance as both the Spanish goals were scored after errors from the French players. Florent Malouda left Alonso unmarked for the first goal and Reveillere conceded a penalty that led to the second.
The French midfield failed to provide much cover to their defence as the likes of Iniesta and Fabregas dragged the French defenders out of positions and made it easy for their teammates to create.
France failed to register much attempts in the second half as they were pushed back into their own half for large periods. Frank Ribery was probably the ray of light in the dark. The Bayern Munich winger tried his best to create something out of nothing and looked lively among a bunch of dull French players.
Apart from a testing freekick from Yohan Cabaye, the French struggled to force Casillas into making a decent save. Blanc changed things later and brought in Nasri, Giroud and Menez to add some penetration, creativity, and pace to side. However, the efforts were futile as the Les Bleus failed to win the ball thus rarely troubled a dominant Spanish side.
France was eventually comprehensively beaten by an industrious Spanish side for the first time in a competitive fixture which sets up a mouth-watering semi-final clash against Portugal.