World Cup 2014 – Group E: Match Recap—France v Honduras

16 Jun

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France showed up to this match with only one thing in mind: redemption. I’d say that mission was soundly accomplished, wouldn’t you? And with style, too. It was an afternoon of thrilling goals, technical snafus, a red card and the long-awaited introduction of goal-line technology! What a match!

After a strange line-up that saw both the national anthems omitted, an Arsenal-less starting 4-3-3 took the field for France against Honduras’ 4-4-2. Our beloved Karim Benzema took the lead up front, with Olympique Marseille’s Mathieu Valbuena on the left and Real Sociedad’s wunderboy Antoine Griezmann on the right, facing off against Honduras’ danger man Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengston, who may be familiar to fans of the MLS’s New England Revolution.

Both sides looked to be grappling with a bit of nerves at the start, with sloppy passing, ill-advised challenges and blatant misses looking to rule the day. But France soon took control, dominating from the midfield and winning a number a series of set pieces that would set a tone for the remainder of the match. Valbuena and Matheiu Debuchy had their hands full with Honduras’ sly and crafty Emilio Izaguirre on the left flank.

PHOTO 1

Mathieu Debuchy and Emilio Izaguirre wage battle on the left bank (Jeff Gross/Getty)

A series of near misses by Blaise Matuidi and Griezmann livened up the pace, and the tone was set for a tense, physical, hot-tempered match that left the Hondurans lacking options. Former Tottenham man Wilson Palacios seemed out of his depth marking Paul Pogba and was soon rewarded for his efforts with a yellow card in the 24th minute. He’d come to rue that reckless tackle just before halftime, when he brought down Paul Pogba in the box, with a nasty blow from behind, that earned him another yellow – and an ejection from the match.

PHOTO 2

A reckless hack on Pogba in the box earns Palacios a red just before half-time  (Jeff Gross/Getty)

Benzema didn’t seem to mind too much, as it allowed him a chance to slot one into the net from the penalty spot.

France v Honduras: Group E - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Relieved exultation all around for France following Benzema’s goal

The second half started out much the same as the first left off, with France dominating all over the pitch. Matuidi seemed to have free reign of the midfield, while Valbuena and Debuchy’s link up play terrorized Honduras on the left. Quick incisive passing and use of the wide areas left Honduras vulnerable, and Benzema was quick to take advantage again with a delightful strike that richocheted off the far post, before rebounding off of Honduran keeper Noel Valladares to cross the line.

Très magnifique, Karim (Paul Gilham/Getty)

Très magnifique, Karim (Paul Gilham/Getty)

… OR DID IT?

Noel Valladares fumbles with the rebound (Quinn Rooney/Getty)

Noel Valladares fumbles with the rebound (Quinn Rooney/Getty)

This, obviously, called for an augury from the Football Gods. Enter GoalSystem, our 21st century footballing oracle. Our first glimpse of the much ballyhooed goal-line technology in action was certainly memorable, in that it resulted in even more confusion and contention.

PHOTO 6

Goal line technology in action!

The sidelines were of different opinions. Honduran manager Luis Fernando Sarez certainly didn’t believe his eyes— or this newfangled techno tomfoolery—and gave the fourth official a piece of his mind, while Didier Deschamps just shrugged helplessly at the vagaries of chance. French nonchalance at its finest!

France powered on with confidence and intent. Honduras made hash of the few chances they had, bungling long crosses and being generally impotent on attack. That said, they defended well against an onslaught of French chances, helped in no small part by the defensive acumen of Brayan Beckeles, whose well-timed tackles and blocking saw off a staggering number of scoring opportunities.

Even so, Honduras were powerless against a hungry France and, in particular, a goal-happy Benzema. His second goal for the evening (or third, depending on who you’re asking) came from a lovely flick on the near post that soared into the upper corner.

Full of heart and full of goals, our Kitten is (football-hqs).

Full of heart and full of goals, our Kitten is (football-hqs).

All in all, this tweet from Debuchy, seen here with best pal Yohan Cabaye, seems to sum it up best for France.

 

My general take away? France look mighty dangerous in attack and on the wings. Griezmann is making the most of his opportunity in Ribery’s absence, and Valbuena proved to be pretty unstoppable on the ball. Cabaye was dominant in midfield, and is going to prove a slippery character to mark moving forward. We’ll have to wait and see how the defense holds up against a more formidable challenger, as Hugo Lloris and Co. didn’t see much action in the final third this time around. As for Honduras, they need to figure out how to make the most off the counterattacking opportunities and shore up their defense because they aren’t going to be winning any games with their prowess in midfield.

Here’s a little bit of skin to tide you over until the next round of play!

Another convincing argument for France's chances (football-hqs)

Another convincing argument for France’s chances (football-hqs)

– Karo

2 Responses to “World Cup 2014 – Group E: Match Recap—France v Honduras”

  1. Katie Ann June 16, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    I was so happy for Benz!!! What a game he had!!! And God love the French team and their penchant for posting selfies.

    Great write-up, Karo!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. World Cup 2014 – Group E – Match Report: Switzerland v. Ecuador; Bits & Bobs | Of Headbands and Heartbreak... - June 18, 2014

    […] could make a really solid argument that this match was better than the three-goal thriller that was France v. Honduras. The teams were more evenly matched, you got a real sense of both teams’ strengths and […]

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