A Tale of Two Coaches: Raymond & Diego Watch

14 06 2010

So that’s their first games underway – Raymond and Diego are up and running.

These are the two coaches that are supposed to provide the entertainment this tournament – wild maniacs who are liable to emotional breakdowns and erratic decisions – and admittedly Diego certainly caught the eye on the touchline. However, 180 minutes in and their sides have conceded only a handful of chances let alone a goal. Proof perhaps that their team selections are not the work of a pair of unhinged individuals?

Well of course they’re not. Raymond Domenech took France all the way to the World Cup Final last time around and after spending much of the warm-up games flirting with an ambitious 4-3-3 with Malouda and Gourcuff in midfield he reverted to a more conservative 4-2-3-1 for the game against Uruguay. This was most likely the formation he had in his mind for much of the build-up – Diarra would have played in Diaby’s place but for injury – and it certainly made sense to go with it up against Uruguay. 3-5-2 vs 4-2-3-1. Not that you would have known it by the reaction of the BBC pundits and, if the rumours of dissention in the ranks are true, his own players. In truth, getting Govou and Ribery at the wing-backs meant Uruguay were forced into virtually playing with five at the back, restricted to relying on Forland and Suarez to conjure something from nothing.  The back four looked comfortable and Toulalan & Diaby gave the front four a decent platform to play from. Sadly for Domenech, Gourcuff, Govou, Anelka and even Ribery were just very poor on the night.

Maradona’s sprang a slight surprise with his team selection opting for Jonas Gutierrez at right-back and asking Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain to share duties covering back on the right-wing. It was an attacking line-up and was only a qualified success – Gutierrez was caught out a couple of times early on – but Argentina eventually came through by an unflattering 1-0 margin. Messi and Veron controlling the game with ease for long spells.

Perhaps the key difference between the two at this early stage appears to be the way they have or, in Domenech’s case at least, have not been able to foster a team spirit. For all the talk of Maradona’s crazy behaviour he appears to have the full support of his squad, who seem to adore him. He is quoted as saying he would die for the players and has fostered strong bonds with them. Perhaps it was this that the experienced Zanetti and Cambiasso were unable to buy into? Domenech on the other hand appears more than ever to be at the mercy of his players with disharmony reigning supreme. In summary, there is a case for saying Domenech got his formation tactically right and Maradona’s selection left his side vulnerable… but spirit is every bit as important as tactics and it is this that means the French are the ones to worry about at this stage.

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3 responses

14 06 2010
Kwolf

Not sure France played a 4-2-3-1. Diaby appeared quite far forward and was beyond Gourcuff on many occassions. That’s maybe more to do with Diaby’s own style of play than what Domenech requested of him though. They certainly looked more dynamic with Diaby and Toulalan than they had done previously with the 2 Diarras. However Ribery and Govou were appalling. Ribery frustrates me greatly. I sometimes think he’s up there with Messi and Ronaldo as one of the very best. Other times he looks naive and makes his checkered early career seem very understandable.
I was very impressed with Argentina though I thought Diego’s subs were poor and nearly offerered up a draw for Nigeria. I can appreciate taking off Veron, he’s no spring chicken, but the metronomic dominance he provided in the middle wasn’t replaced. Strangely the player I would have chosen to replace Veron, even if I could’ve picked from any nation, would’ve been Cambiasso. To keep the ball and close the game down he must be unrivalled.

15 06 2010
theghostgoal

I think Gourcuff definitely played in a more advanced position than Diaby, but it is true that the Arsenal man made some good runs forward. I think Maradona was very fortunate Jonas got away with a couple of errors – its almost old hat to go on about the Inter pair that weren’t selected but that doesn’t mean it is not a valid point. Hard to see what Jonas and Burdisso bring to the party that the great man Zanetti doesn’t? Only taking the trophy back to Buenos Aires would vindicate it in my eyes I’m afraid.

14 06 2010
Gollo

Is the plural of Diarra Diarri?

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