Ukraine vs. France: Changes Both Teams Should Make for Playoff Second Leg

Aidan ReynoldsContributor IIINovember 16, 2013

Frank Ribery had a quiet game in the first leg, but France need him to return to form in Paris.
Frank Ribery had a quiet game in the first leg, but France need him to return to form in Paris.Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

A World Cup without France is now looking like a distinct possibility, as Didier Deschamps' men slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Ukraine in Kiev.

The onus is on France to make something happen in the second leg, but a red card apiece means both teams will be forced to make changes.

Laurent Koscielny conceded a penalty, then capped off a poor evening by receiving a red card for raising his arms to Oleksandr Kucher. Not to be outdone, Kucher then received a second yellow after fouling Mathieu Valbuena.

Both players need to be replaced for the second leg, but there are also changes elsewhere that will be made on performance alone. Three options are outlined below.


France: Replace Samir Nasri with Mathieu Valbuena

Summing up the second leg succinctly, France need goals.

The attacking force of Samir Nasri, Loic Remy and Olivier Giroud looked below par in the first leg, and it's likely to be Nasri that suffers.

Immediately after Roman Zozulya put the home side in front, Nasri had a chance to level the score and get France back in the game. Instead, he shot tamely at Andriy Pyatov and France struggled to create chances.

It's entirely possible that both Nasri and Remy are replaced, with the latter making way for Karim Benzema in an effort to lift Les Bleus to two goals or more.

France have to get Franck Ribery more involved and Valbuena will draw players away with his pace and skill. He can create holes in the midfield for Ribery to exploit, as well as giving France a better option for an early goal.

Much will depend on Yaroslav Rakitskiy in the second leg.
Much will depend on Yaroslav Rakitskiy in the second leg.Ian Walton/Getty Images


Ukraine: Replace Oleksandr Kucher with Yaroslav Rakitskiy

It's a change that is forced upon Mykhaylo Fomenko, and the additional loss of Artem Fedetskiy means that two of Ukraine's starting back four are absent for the game in Paris.

Bringing Yaroslav Rakitskiy into the lineup will restore some presence to the Ukranian defence and much will rest on him as France look to chase the game. Ukraine will likely be under pressure for much of the 90 minutes, so it's vital that Rakitskiy receives support from his midfield.

We have often seen Fomenko adjust his 4-2-3-1 formation to a more traditional 4-4-2 when faced with a defensive battle, so don't be surprised to see that once again.

Otherwise, it's unlikely that Fomenko will look to make changes to the side that was so successful in the first leg. 

Yevheniy Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko are always going to be a threat, so there could yet be another goal in it for Ukraine.


France: Replace Paul Pogba with Yohan Cabaye

Ahead of the first leg, Paul Pogba spoke to Sky Sports of his willingness to be utilised anywhere that the manager thought would benefit the team.

However, on an evening where France need more creativity, it would seem sensible to drop Yohan Cabaye deeper in the midfield in place of Pogba and again try to free up space for Ribery to work his magic.

Cabaye's form has jumped up for Newcastle in recent weeks, and if Remy gets the nod, it also makes sense to play him with his club teammate as France search for goals.

Retaining Pogba on the bench also means that he can be brought on in the more attacking role he has enjoyed for Juventus and cause problems for Ukraine.

France have a wealth of talent at their disposal, so that will be of benefit to Deschamps when chasing the tie in Paris.

Ukraine have notable defensive absences which will benefit the home side, so it's vital that France get off to a quick start and get the early goal they so desperately need.