I don’t know what Uefa officials were thinking to make these kids play once every two days.
The tight schedule will be a major setback for Northern Ireland. They had an exhausting first game against Belgium (the hosts of all the games in this group), a game controlled from beginning till end by the Belgians. As an off topic I must point out the value of Belgian squads at all levels.
According to reports, the kids from Northern Ireland had an awful time and spent most of the 90 minutes in their own half, running after Belgium’s players. Uefa’s stats can’t lie, and according to them there wasn’t even 1 attempt on target coming from Northern Ireland.
As I understand, according to the Northern Irish football association, they have some problems with injuries, but there are no further details regarding to the importance (or even the names) of the players injured.
France on the other side began the 1st game versus Iceland in style. They completely dominated the 1st half and as a consequence they were 2-0 up at half time. But kids will be kids and they soon lost interest (either that or the Icelanders had some magic potion at half time…). The 2nd half was more balanced, French kids became too superficial upfront and Iceland punished on 2 counters. The game finished 2-2 but the good news is that France didn’t make much efforts and preserved energy.
France’s major strength is the powerful offense and the high levels of creativity in midfield.
Jean from Troyes is the sole striker. He is a great talent and last season when Troyes was in Ligue1 his name was on all scouts’ lips. Nowadays when Troyes relegated people began to forget him, but his skills are growing each week, even if he is only a rotation player.
On his right side there is winger Said from Rennes, who already has a couple of games in his feet and high confidence. Although not the brightest player (he called Rennes’ officials bastards on Twitter….) he is rightfully perceived as a big talent, having all the qualities necessary to became an important player: speed, stamina, ball control and vision.
Rabiot from PSG is the undisputed leader in central midfield. He may not have a place in PSG’s lineup due to the expensive constellation of players there, but he’ll be like a wizard around kids his age.
The only problem for France is the defense which is not that solid. The entire back line is made from players who aren’t even on the bench for their sides, and this is how we can explain the 2-2 draw versus Iceland.
Still, in spite of that, I do not think that a bunch of exhausted kids with questionable footballing skills can score against this team of France, especially when they haven’t even manged 1 shot on target in the 1st game.
Just like in previous game, France will begin in force. The only difference is that they will maintain a high rhythm after learning their lesson. This is why half time / full time, France / France at the odds of 1.72 is the perfect bet.