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France 1-0 England – Not Good Enough

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France 1-0 England
Wednesday 26 March 2008, Stade de France

Despite injuries to several influential players, France were the more assured side and won the game 1-0 without much trouble. The goal came courtesy of a Ribery penalty after Anelka had been felled by James in the box. England created little, and lost possession too easily.

Of course, I’m just quoting what I read last night and this morning, since they only showed Portugal-Greece on TV here (the idiots). Beckham got his 100th cap, Terry got injured, Owen got his cap, Downing got a chance as well. Other than that, hopefully Capello learned something from this tie that will help him improve England. I was depressed when I first heard the result, but without seeing England perform you can’t honestly give up on them, can you?

Better luck against the US (May) and the Czech (August), both to be played at Wembley.


England starting lineup:

James, Brown, Ferdinand (capt), Terry, A Cole, Beckham, Hargreaves, Barry, J Cole, Gerrard, Rooney.

No Frank Lampard – Sky say he’s down with a severe stomach problem.

France starting lineup:

Coupet Clerc, Gallas, Thuram, Abidal, Ribéry, Makelele, Toulalan, Malouda, Trezeguet, Anelka.

Will be interesting to see how Gallas / Thuram / Makelele deal with Cole, Gerrard and Rooney. I don’t think Terry / Ferdinand should have ‘too much trouble’ with Trez and Anelka. Of course, Brown playing behind Beckham will be interesting – can Malouda exploit the lack of pace of a centurion and the sometimes problematic positioning of Brown?

Rio Ferdinand will captain England in Paris on Wednesday evening, while Fabio Capello has confirmed that David Beckham will win his 100th cap in the friendly.

FA statement:

“Fabio Capello has confirmed that Rio Ferdinand will captain England against France in Paris. Capello has confirmed this continues his policy of rotating the captaincy between players in the friendly matches before confirming a permanent captain for the World Cup qualifying games.”

Can’t say I disagree with that – the rotation policy, that is. But will Ferdinand be a better England captain than Terry?


“I couldn’t make him come all the way from the USA and not play him. Nobody knows what the future holds. The David Beckham I know can get to 2010 if he works and trains hard. If he carries on training and working hard as he is, he can easily last.

France take on England in a much-anticipated friendly in Paris next Wednesday – the game may be just a friendly but it is also England’s first real test under Capello and it will be interesting to see how Don Fabio shapes his side to take on a team who, hate them or love them, qualified for Euro 2008.

Jermaine Jenas, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young, Shaun Wright-Phillips, David Wheater and Jermain Defoe were dropped from the initial 30-man squad, while Scott Carson and Matthew Upson are out injured. Paul Robinson comes in to replace Carson.

Both Capello and Domenech have called up some new names in their squads for the international break with Theo Walcott, and David Beckham coming in for England. Notable absentees for England include Michael Carrick, Aaron Lennon (not part of the U-21 either), Ben Foster and Robert Green. Micah Richards and Ledley King miss out through injury, as do Carson and Upson.

The absence of Young, Agbonlahor and Defoe will raise a few questions, especially when all 3 players offer England a dimension their game has lacked in recent years – pace and fluid movement off the ball.

Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Mathieu Bodmer, Mathieu Valbuena, Mathieu Delpierre and Adil Rami are the new faces for the 39-strong squad for the March 25 and 26 games at Stade Charlety (Mali, A team) and the Stade de France respectively.

Willy Sagnol and David Trezeguet are the notable omissions (fitness and personality clash, respectively), while Louis Saha misses out after he picked up a new injury against Bolton on Wednesday.

Fabio Capello:

“Next week Stuart (Pearce, England U-21 manager) has a friendly match so it is a good opportunity for us to consider some of the younger players for the senior squad.”

Cap’s not happy about the Sunday matches either, which deprive him of an extra day of training with several of his first-choice England players.

“This is a friendly – having said that I’m not ecstatic, not happy about it. Some of the players I will not be able to train as I would like to.”

Raymond Domenech:

“We must try to see some options for the future.

Some players in certain positions will call a halt to their careers quicker than others, so we mustn’t find ourselves in a situation where one generation leaves and we are left having to urgently find replacements for them.

We want to see where they are, what they’re capable of doing at the highest level.”

France will use this set of friendlies to finetune their squad for Euro 2008 while England will be hoping to to give players as much exposure to quality competitive football as possible in order to prepare them for their 2010 World Cup Qualifying campaign.

However, regardless of what both coaches might say about the future, this is a game both managers would be going flat out to win. No predictions on this yet, but hopefully England can turn in an improved performance from last time around.

England Squad

Goalkeepers: David James (Portsmouth), Paul Robinson (Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Kirkland (Wigan Athletic)

Defenders: Wayne Bridge (Chelsea), Wes Brown (Manchester United), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Portsmouth), Joleon Lescott (Everton), John Terry (Chelsea), Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (AstonVilla), Owen Hargreaves (Manchester United), Joe Cole (Chelsea), David Bentley (Blackburn Rovers), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough)

Forwards: Michael Owen (Newcastle United), Wayne Rooney, (Manchester United), Peter Crouch (Liverpool), Theo Walcott (Arsenal)

Expected Lineup: James, Brown, Ferdinand, Terry, A. Cole, Bentley, Gerrard, Hargreaves, Lampard, Cole, Rooney
Subs: Kirkland, Lescott, Woodgate, Beckham, Barry, Owen, Walcott

France Squad

Goalkeepers: Gregory Coupet (Lyon), Mickael Landreau (PSG), Hugo Lloris (Nice), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Eric Abidal (Barcelona), Jean-Alain Boumsong (Lyon), Gael Clichy (Arsenal), Francois Clerc (Lyon), Mathieu Delpierre (Stuttgart), Julien Escude (Seville), Patrice Evra (Manr Utd), William Gallas (Arsenal), Gael Givet (Marseille), Philippe Mexes (AS Roma), Adil Rami (Lille), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Sebastien Squillaci (Lyon), Lilian Thuram (Barcelona)

Midfielders: Mathieu Bodmer (Lyon), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Lassana Diarra (Portsmouth), Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal), Claude Makelele (Chelsea), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Samir Nasri (Marseille), Jeremy Toulalan (Lyon), Jerome Rothen (PSG),

Strikers: Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea), Hatem Ben Arfa (Lyon), David Trezeguet (Juventus), Jimmy Briand (Rennes), Djibril Cisse (Marseille), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Sidney Govou (Lyon), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Louis Saha (Man Utd), Loic Remy (Lens)

Also See:

Spain v Italy
Brazil v Sweden
Mexico v Ghana

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.