Posts Tagged ‘Abou Diaby’

French football quotes of the year 2012

Samir NasriFrom AVB to Zlatan, Newcastle to Donetsk, Football Further is proud to present its third annual compilation of the year’s best French football quotes.

Cross-Channel relations

“Yesterday, I make one tackle and all everybody speak about is this tackle. Nobody speaks about the 50-yard pass that kills [Florent] Balmont and causes a red card for ‘im.”
- Replete with some elaborate eyebrow-waggling and a healthy dose of Gallic shrugging, Joey Barton‘s attempts to ingratiate himself with the Marseille media become an instant YouTube classic

“Eden Hazard’s English is catastrophic. I asked him: ‘Are you happy with your transfer?’ He said: ‘I don’t understand!’”
- Romelu Lukaku on his new Chelsea team-mate

“It was the feeling I had with the coach. He said he trusted me, but he didn’t let me play. He said I was too young. He said: ‘Your time will come.’ It didn’t come. Even though he’s had a 25-year career and despite the fact he’s the boss, my objective was to play … I’m impatient. When I want something, I’ll do anything to get it.”
- Paul Pogba crosses Sir Alex Ferguson, and lives to tell the tale

“The only thing I miss is in the changing room. I can’t understand all the jokes and it’s frustrating. French is more difficult than I thought. I’m trying to take my lessons very seriously. I listen to them for at least half an hour each day. The other day I watched a film in French, with English subtitles. It was Ne le dis à personne ['Tell No One'], which was a great film. I’m going to do it again.”
- Joe Cole may have left Lille with a sub-GCSE level of French, but he is now a leading authority on the films of Guillaume Canet

“I could become a doctor!”
- Abou Diaby tries to put a positive spin on all the medical vocabulary he has acquired during his time in and out of the Arsenal treatment room

Euro 2012

“I accept that you can ask questions about his sporting performances … But when I hear that he could be dangerous for the concept of the group, I feel like we’re trying to bring a wolf into the sheep pen. He’s been a part of the group since the start. He dropped out due to injury and then loss of form. Don’t make him out to be a wolf, because he isn’t one.”
- Laurent Blanc tells the media not to cry wolf after handing Yoann Gourcuff a place in his preliminary squad

“Shut your face! Shut your face!”
- Samir Nasri celebrates his goal in the opening game with England by thanking the gentlemen of the French press for their support

“There was a bit of a slanging match in the changing room.”
- Olivier Giroud lets the cat out of the bag about the row that erupted after France’s shock 2-0 loss to Sweden

“Go fuck yourself! Go fuck your mother, you son of a bitch! There, now you can write that I’m badly brought up.”
- Such a nice boy, that Samir Nasri – lashing out at a journalist following Les Bleus‘ quarter-final elimination by Spain

“We’ve told them to be vigilant and not to say anything that could hurt the group.”
- French Football Federation press officer Philippe Tournon, prior to the tournament, on the instructions given to France’s players about how to handle the media

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Blanc’s France still searching for an identity

For a team protecting an unbeaten record that now stretches to 543 days, France will approach Wednesday night’s friendly against Germany in Bremen with a surprising degree of uncertainty.

Since going down 1-0 at home to Belarus in Laurent Blanc’s first competitive game in charge in September 2010, France have qualified for Euro 2012 – without recourse to the play-offs – and enjoyed friendly wins over England, Brazil and the United States (as well as some forgettable draws against Croatia, Chile and Belgium).

Viewed from the outside, and against a backdrop of the self-inflicted humiliation of the 2010 World Cup, Les Bleus are turning things around. Bubbling beneath the statistics, however, are a multitude of concerns about the team’s style of play and a lack of both experience and leadership within the squad, while an ongoing contract dispute between Blanc and French Football Federation president Noël Le Graët suggests Blanc’s employers remain to be convinced by the direction the team is taking.

Blanc pledged to introduced panache and risk-taking to France’s football following his appointment in the aftermath of the infamous Knysna training ground mutiny, but although France have become solid and difficult to beat, their play has not captured the imagination since the first game of their current 17-match unbeaten run – a 2-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo that came four days after the setback against Belarus.

Then, a team anchored by a midfield pairing of Yann M’Vila and Alou Diarra, driven forward by the lolloping raids of Abou Diaby and centred around the new-found efficacy of Karim Benzema had hinted at a glorious future for Blanc’s France. Now, although Benzema has gone from strength to strength at Real Madrid, the team has lost its way.

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Tactics: Can France play without a playmaker?

The team that Laurent Blanc aligns against Romania on Saturday may herald a significant change of direction in the tactical evolution of the French national side. Teams representing the country have long been built around a single, richly talented creative player, from Raymond Kopa in the 1950s through Michel Platini in the 1980s to Zinedine Zidane at the turn of the last century. But that could be about to change. 

The basic shape of France's midfield and attack in the 2-0 Euro 2012 qualifying victory against Bosnia-Hercegovina in Sarajevo in September 2010

France’s 2-0 victory over Bosnia-Hercegovina in Sarajevo last month was probably their most impressive performance in a competitive match for four years and they achieved it without a playmaker in sight. Instead, Alou Diarra anchored a muscular midfield with Yann M’Vila alongside him and Abou Diaby operating slightly further forward. Florent Malouda and Mathieu Valbuena were deployed on the flanks, in support of lone striker Karim Benzema.

Diaby has long been typecast as a defensive midfielder, presumably because of his height, his build and his physical resemblance to Patrick Vieira, but against Bosnia he was given the freedom to express his attacking gifts, embarking on lolloping runs into opposition territory and making a number of incisive passes. A playmaker, however, he is not. 

Yoann Gourcuff, the heir apparent to Zidane, and Samir Nasri missed the game in Sarajevo, through suspension and injury respectively. Both are now back in the fold, but Blanc has promised that the players who starred against Bosnia will be given an opportunity to stake a claim to a first-team place. 

“Nothing forces us to play with a number 10,” said Blanc this week. “In Bosnia, because we couldn’t do anything else, there wasn’t one. The train had passed, the team was put in place and it did a pleasing job.”

Blanc has admitted, however, that “players who are capable of making the team play better [i.e. playmakers] are always useful” and he has also expressed a conviction that Gourcuff and Nasri can be fitted into the same starting XI, most probably with Nasri playing wide on the right and Gourcuff in the centre.

The prototype 4-3-3 that breathed new life into the French national team’s play in Sarajevo was a world away from the stodgy, unimaginative football associated with the 4-2-3-1 of the Raymond Domenech era, but Blanc’s stated mission to create a side that “imposes its style upon its opponents” would perhaps be best served by a team containing at least one playmaker. In any case, Diaby’s ankle injury suggests at least one of Gourcuff and Nasri will make the starting XI against Romania.

Nevertheless, the performances of Diaby, M’Vila and co against Bosnia proved that France can function perfectly well without a number 10. The team-sheet at the Stade de France on Saturday could give the clearest indication yet that France’s love affair with the playmaker is about to be put on indefinite hold.

World Cup scouting: The 32 – Conclusions

Starting with Nicolás Lodeiro back in December last year, Football Further selected 32 players to watch out for at the 2010 World Cup and then tracked their progress through the tournament via weekly scouting reports. Below is a full compilation of those reports, along with conclusions (and marks out of 10) on how each player performed.

Players with asterisks* were scouted by Football Further in the build-up to the World Cup.

GROUP A

South Africa: Katlego Mphela
- Group match 1 (South Africa 1-1 Mexico): Led the line with uncomplaining dedication, played a key part in the build-up to Siphiwe Tshabalala’s opening goal and hit the post late on with a rather tame left-footed effort.
- Group match 2 (South Africa 0-3 Uruguay): Forced to plough a lone furrow again, he managed to craft a few half-chances for himself but was let down by the quality of the service he received.
- Group match 3 (South Africa 2-1 France): Bowed out of the World Cup with a man-of-the-match performance. Bundled home South Africa’s second goal from Tsepo Masilela’s left-wing centre and could have had a hat-trick. Tested Hugo Lloris three times – twice with well-controlled efforts from distance – and also rattled the post with a side-footed shot from close range.
Overall: 6/10. Made to toil in the hosts’ opening two games, he confirmed his quality in the victory over France.

Mexico: Giovani dos Santos
- Group match 1 (South Africa 1-1 Mexico): Illuminated the first 45 minutes of the World Cup with his enterprising dribbling in central areas. Had less of an impact in the second half but drew fine save from Itumelung Khune with rasping shot.
- Group match 2 (Mexico 2-0 France): Not as influential as against South Africa, but posed a threat whenever he got the ball in the right positions. Looked to get in behind the France defence at every opportunity and sent a low shot a couple of yards wide after outmuscling Patrice Evra shortly before half-time.
- Group match 3 (Mexico 0-1 Uruguay): Often Mexico’s most advanced player, he could not capitalise on the space occasionally afforded him as El Tri were made to accept the unpalatable prospect of a last-16 meeting with Argentina.
- Round of 16 (Argentina 3-1 Mexico): Started on the right but was repeatedly unable to exploit promising situations purely due to the fact he always had to cut inside onto his left foot. Slipped cute pass through to Javier Hernandez in the game’s early stages but endured a largely frustrating evening.
Overall: 7/10. Failed to rediscover the form that made him the stand-out player of the tournament’s opening game, but he nonetheless remained a dangerous weapon for Mexico and was nominated for the Young Player of the Tournament award.

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World Cup scouting: The 32

The following 32 names represent Football Further‘s players to watch at the 2010 World Cup. We’ll be following their performances closely over the course of the tournament, with weekly scouting reports rounding up their progress.

Names preceded by squad numbers. Players in bold have been scouted by Football Further in the build-up to the World Cup. Players in brackets were scouted but not called up by their national sides.

Group A
South Africa: 9. Katlego Mphela
Mexico: 17. Giovani dos Santos (Jonathan dos Santos)
Uruguay: 14. Nicolás Lodeiro
France: 19. Abou Diaby (Moussa Sissoko)

Group B
Argentina: 15. Nicolás Otamendi
Nigeria: 15. Lukman Haruna
South Korea: 16. Ki Sung-Yong
Greece: 18. Sotiris Ninis

Group C
England: 23. Joe Hart (Jack Wilshere)
United States: 4. Michael Bradley
Algeria: 7. Ryad Boudebouz
Slovenia: 15. Rene Krhin

Group D

Germany: 6. Sami Khedira
Australia: 23. Mark Bresciano (Tommy Oar)
Serbia: 3. Aleksandar Kolarov
Ghana: 18. Dominic Adiyiah

Group E
Netherlands: 2. Gregory van der Wiel
Denmark: 3. Simon Kjær
Japan: 18. Keisuke Honda
Cameroon: 3. Nicolas N’Koulou

Group F
Italy: 10. Antonio Di Natale
Paraguay: 19. Lucas Barrios
New Zealand: 20. Chris Wood
Slovakia: 15. Miroslav Stoch

Group G
Brazil: 6. Michel Bastos
North Korea: 9. Jong Tae-Se
Ivory Coast: 10. Gervinho
Portugal: 23. Fábio Coentrão

Group H
Spain: 22. Jesús Navas
Switzerland: 23. Xherdan Shaqiri
Honduras: 12. Georgie Welcome
Chile: 14. Matías Fernández

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