France youngsters look to prove themselves
France’s next generation could get their chance Friday when the
national football team faces the United States in a friendly.
The French have already qualified for next year’s European
Championship, so France coach Laurent Blanc may give some
inexperienced players a chance to shine against the Americans.
”The idea is to give some playing time to either young or
uncapped players who are unproven at the international level,”
Blanc said. ”If the newcomers are to get some playing time, I
think they will get it against the United States. And if they
perform satisfactorily, they may play against Belgium.”
France hosts Belgium next Tuesday, while the United States
travels to Slovenia.
Valencia fullback Jeremy Mathieu, Arsenal center back Laurent
Koscielny, Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons and Montpellier striker
Olivier Giroud are all possible candidates to make their
international debuts on Friday.
”I intend to take my chance,” said Giroud, the top scorer in
the French league. ”There will be of course some pressure, but
hopefully some good pressure, not the one that will inhibit me and
prevent me from playing at my best.”
Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye has made only eight
international appearances and was also aware of the importance of
”It will be important to optimize every minute that we will
spend on the pitch so that we score points and do anything to be in
the squad for the European Championship,” Cabaye said.
France has played the United States only twice, winning 6-0 in
East Rutherford, New Jersey, in May 1979 and 3-0 in Paris five
But much has changed since then. The Americans reached the
second round at last year’s World Cup while France was eliminated
in the group stage following a player strike.
”It’s a team which is improving and which is very motivated to
get a good result against us,” France winger Florent Malouda said,
”because that would give them a bit more value and recognition on
the international stage.”
Jurgen Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as the United States coach
in July and has been trying to implement a more-attacking style of
”We have started to build a foundation on our playing style,
and every time we are together the team gets a more precise picture
of how I want to see things done on the field,” Klinsmann said.
”We want to continue to progress so we are able to challenge teams
like France, who have earned their place as one of the top 15 teams
in the world.”
France, which is unbeaten in its last 15 matches, is 15th in the
FIFA world rankings, while the United States has slipped to
”There’s still this desire to stretch this unbeaten run that
helps us add up a lot of confidence,” France midfielder Alou
In his first coaching job, Klinsmann led Germany to a
third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup. But so far, the Americans
have lost three matches and earned a draw and a victory under
Klinsmann, who is experimenting with players and formations before
the start of World Cup qualifying in June.
”We get to play the former world champions in a wonderful
stadium that hosted the World Cup final, so it’s a great honor and
we are certainly looking forward to it,” United States defender
Clarence Goodson said.
The United States is going through a rebuilding phase. Of the 21
players who made the squad for the November friendlies, six are
young enough to be eligible for the Under-23 team and only 11 were
at the World Cup in South Africa.
German-born defender Alfredo Morales could make his national
team debut for the Americans.