Lee Garrity talks us through this week’s Coupe De France Quarter-Finals

On Tuesday Ligue 2 Reims entertained Ligue 1 side Nice in the first of the Quarter Finals, Daniel Ljuboja gave the visitors the lead on the half hour but Reims hit straight back when Romain Amalfitano side footed home from a Odair Fortes cross. Eric Mouloungui restored the lead for Nice on 48 minutes but once more Reims deservedly hit back, Fortes adding a goal to his earlier assist to force the game into extra time. Mouloungui was to be the hero for Eric Roy’s Nice as substitutes David Bellion & Anthony Mounier combined for the former Strasbourg forwards 2nd goal of the game vindicating Roy’s decision to rest several key players.

There was to be no more giant killing heroics from non league Chambery as Ligue 2 Angers strolled to a 3-0 victory at Grenoble’s Stade des Alpes. On loan Bordeaux man Henri Saivet broke the minnows hearts on the stoke of half time and 2nd half strikes from Sebastien Renouard & Diego Gomez gave the scoreline a one sided look.

Ligue 2 leaders Le Mans travelled east to the capital to face a Paris Saint Germain side who started with a mix of experience and highly rated youth, it was to be the youth that would eventually come out on top. Scoreless at full time and with the hosts down to 10 men the game ebbed and flowed with both sides creating chances, possibly the best of which fell to Le Mans, the visitors also went down to 10 men early in extra time and PSG took hold of the game, taking a 108th minute lead through Jean Christophe Bahebeck and sealing the game through another youngster Neeskens Kebano.

The last of the Quarter Finals was to be the final game played on the notorious Metropole pitch at Lille. The hosts had the better of the chances but visiting Lorient keeper Fabien Audard was in fine form and after extra time the game ended 0-0. The first four penalties were converted before a woeful spot kick from Lorient’s Arnold Mvuemba gave the home side the advantage, both sides scored their next penalty so it fell to Lille’s talisman Eden Hazard to win the game and he did just that although Lorient may feel that the Belgian playmaker should have re-taken the kick after he appeared to stop mid run up before tapping the ball to the stricken Audard’s right hand side to give Lille a 5-3 shootout win and send them into the semi finals alongside Angers Nice & last season’s winners Paris Saint Germain.

 

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Unfortunately I can’t keep up with the Le Beau Jeu podcasts but who knows what will happen in the New Year. My love for Ligue 1 has not gone though so without further a due, here I go with my Ligue 1 previews and predictions.

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Very interesting news came out on Friday; New French manager Laurent Blanc announced that all 23 members of the 2010 World Cup squad would not be picked for next month’s friendly against Norway. On Thursday the 5th of August Blanc will name the players pick for the match on August 11th, but who will he choose.

As an avid follower of French football this is a really interesting time, will he go for experience and steady the ship, or will he look to the future to set an example to the 23 players expelled that there is a future without them and that they are not automatic picks.

This morning I have had a look round the available players and had a go at picking a 18 man squad that I would pick for the match, a list of about 35 players was narrowed down to 24, and then the final cuts were made till I had the 18 men I could see taking the FFF forward.



 

#1 Mikael Landreau Lille Goalkeeper
#12 Nicola Douchez Rennes Goalkeeper
#15 Rod Fanni Rennes Defender
#2 Mathieu Debuchy Lille Defender
#3 Bruno Tremoulinas Bordeaux Defender
#4 Julian Escude Sevilla Defender
#5 Adel Rami Lille Defender
#6 Laurent Koscienly Arsenal Defender
#14 Rio Mavuba Lille Midfield
#16 Samir Nasri Arsenal Midfield
#17 Yohann Cabaye Lille Midfield
#18 Moussa Sissokho Toulouse Midfield
#7 Hatem Ben Arfa Marseille Midfield
#8 Lassana Diarra Real Madrid Midfield
#10 Kevin Gameiro Lorient Forward
#11 Jimmy Briand Lyon Forward
#13 Loic Remy Nice Forward
#9 Karim Benzema Real Madrid Forward

So let’s explain this squad a little;

In goals I have picked Lille’s Mikael Landreau, did extremely well to recover from a serious knee injury at the start of last season, a great shot stopper, bags of experience and I think it helps a back 4 if you have a Goalkeeper who has been there to talk you through the match, Nicola Douchez has impressed for Rennes so we would be the substitute, Landreau deserves his place between the sticks for his performances for Lille last season.

Rennes - Rod Fanni

My back four would be: Rod Fanni, Bruno Tremoulinas, Adel Rami and new Arsenal man Laurent Koscienly, at Left Back Tremoulinas adds instant width and an ability to deliver a fantastic cross that new Arsenal man Marouane Chamakh benefited from last season, Bruno can also defend, but I’ve picked him more for his attacking prowess. To balance the attacking instincts of the left back I’ve gone with Rod Fanni of Rennes at Right Back, he also loves to get forward, maybe doesn’t quite have the quality in his deliver but he’s big and strong and can defend well.

In the middle I have gone with a young pairing of Rami and Koscienly, Laurent who was signed for Arsenal has had a meteoric rise in the last 2 years from Tours to the Emirates, I would not bet against him pulling on the national jersey and excelling at this level too, beside him is a young player that’s impressed me loads in the past few years, Rami has been a rock in Lille’s defence for the last few years, constantly linked with moves to various clubs, mostly Lyon, he is great in the air, fast over the ground, and not afraid to get a boot in.

A strong back four, with youthful exuberance, power and pace, with the wise head of Landreau behind to keep them right.

The midfield will play with 2 sitting players and 3 attacking, my sitting players have been 2 of the best midfielders in France recently the tenacious Rio Mavuba and one of the best young midfielders in Europe Moussa Sissokho, Rio has been superb for Lille ever since his loan move from Villarreal, he’s added a needed composure on the ball, most Lille moves go through him, the brains behind Rudi Garcia’s successful team, Sissokho is a very talented very sought after man, often compared to Mamadou Diarra and Patrick Vieria, Moussa can play anywhere in midfield, I want him to provide the energy in defence as well as attack.

Jimmy Briand shows his pace

My attacking players bring not only a balance to the team but also a touch of mystique and creativity, Hatem Ben Arfa, Lassana Diarra and Jimmy Briand, Hatem and Lass don’t come with the best reputation for their attitudes but no one can deny their ability on the field, Lass provides an attacking option however he can also swap with Sissokho when the big man breaks forward, great distributor of the ball, great feet, would be an excellent spearhead to the attack, to the left of him would be Ben Arfa, undoubted skill, great confidence, maybe not as consistent as the top managers would like, however on his day he is up there with the best, to the right of Lass would be Lyon’s new signing Jimmy Briand “The new Henry” loves to play wide and cut inside, explosive pace, scores goals, a wonderful young talent, a handful for any defence, accustomed to playing wide at Rennes, we would be perfect in this role for Les Bleus.

The front man in my attack is not a well known player outside France and is actually still to decide if he wants to play for Blanc and the French but Kevin Gameiro’s 17 league goals last year was the best strike rate in France, also eligible to play for Portugal but he has come up through the French ranks, made his name at Strasbourg he was bought by Lorient to replace Andre-Pierre Gignac and his 28 goals in 2 seasons has certainly done the job, not the tallest player however he uses his body well and has that sixth sense some strikers have to find space, and he is deadly around the box.

What about Nasri and Benzema I hear you cry, very good questions, Benzema basically purely on form, he’s not made the jump to Madrid very smoothly and I feel the other players are ahead of him on that reason and with Nasri, if we were 5/6 weeks into the new season then maybe I would play him instead Diarra or Ben Arfa however a few preseason goals mean nothing to me.

I will be very interested to see Blanc’s squad on the 5th of August, even more interested to see how many I got right, and how close his team is to mine; I would leave to hear your thoughts on this, so please feel free to reply.

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