France vs. Jamaica: 6 Things We Learned in Huge World Cup Warm-Up Victory
France rattled eight past Jamaica without reply on Sunday evening in their final warm-up friendly before the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The likes of Karim Benzema and Blaise Matuidi were on the scoresheet, giving France two wins and a draw from their three pre-tournament friendlies.
Here are six things we've learned about Didier Deschamps' side as they head to Brazil for the finals.
France Have Quality Options in Attack Without Franck Ribery
Franck Ribery might be missing the World Cup through injury, just one of several big-name absentees from Brazil 2014, but France can rest assured that they have enough in their squad to cause teams plenty of problems in attack without him.
Three forwards and several creative attacking midfielders are in the squad, and judging by Deschamps' instructions to his side in the Jamaica friendly, he's looking to make the most of that depth.
And yes, that's also without Samir Nasri.
Giroud and Benzema Could Play Together
It was largely assumed it would be two wide attackers on either side of Benzema in Brazil, with Olivier Giroud the striker's back-up.
The match against Jamaica showed that doesn't necessarily have to be the case; Giroud played centrally and Benzema started from the left for France, with Deschamps pairing the two in attack to an extent and reaping the benefits.
Giroud showed good movement and linkup play while Benzema's runs infield from the flank were never tracked by the defence. They scored three between them, and Benzema hit the woodwork as he searched for a hat-trick.
Blaise Matuidi Could Well Be France's Most Important Player
In the three-man midfield, France have plenty of aggression, passing ability, defensive work rate and energy to break forward from deep very, very quickly.
Matuidi does all of that and more as he holds together this French side.
His lung-bursting runs from deep into the opposition penalty area make him a threat in the final third, while he works wide and into the channels on the left flank, too. He takes the pressure off Yohan Cabaye, giving him space to play in, supports his left-back in defence and covers an enormous amount of ground.
Tactically, he could be the most important player in this France team.
Mathieu Valbuena: France's Key to Unlocking the Group
If Matuidi is tactically the man to glue France together, Mathieu Valbuena is the creative fulcrum who can help Franc break down their opponents at the World Cup.
The Marseille playmaker picks space on the pitch superbly, is comfortable with one-touch passes in crowded areas or simply putting his foot on the ball to let others run around him—inevitably picking out his man in the end.
He seems to particularly have a good link with Giroud, chipping passes into the area for the forward to attack, but his all-round movement and acceleration mean he is able to get into positions to feed all of his attacking team-mates.
Team Spirit Looks Good
A criticism of past France squads—not without reason—has been a difficult atmosphere within the group.
There has been plenty of evidence already that this time around, Deschamps has avoided that particular problem, so far at least, and the Jamaica game was another example of this.
Mamadou Sakho and Matuidi were seen celebrating together, former PSG team-mates of course, while a comical stumble from Valbuena prompted much mickey-taking—in good faith—from his team-mates and manager.
The final whistle and subsequent embraces showed the squad is ready to go and have belief in what they can achieve together.
Options off the Bench
No matter how well Deschamps prepares, no matter how good his starting XI's form is right now, at some point during the tournament, France will struggle to break a team down and will need to turn to their bench to change the game.
They can be pleased that—even without those left out and those out injured—they have great depth there to find game-winning personnel at their disposal.
If Antoine Griezmann doesn't start, he's an obvious talent with skill, pace and goalscoring ability, while Loic Remy can also be a much more direct threat than the other two forwards with his running behind the defence.
In midfield, Moussa Sissoko can make his bursting runs forward from deep, and there are quality, offensive full-backs on both sides who can come in if needed, too.
France's preparations have gone as well as they could have hoped. Now, it's off to Brazil and to see just how far they can go in the 2014 World Cup.
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