France completed a sensational 3-0 win over Ukraine on Tuesday night at the Stade de France following their disappointing 2-0 defeat last week, and Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City fans should be pleased.
Les Blues qualified to take their place in next summer’s World Cup in Brazil in style with a victory that had seemed the impossible dream. Didier Dechamps’ side took the lead in the first half via a centre-half, an unlikely goal for Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho, followed by a controversial goal for Real Madrid striker and Arsenal target Karim Benzema.
Sakho put the tie closer to bed in the second half with his second goal of the game and his second goal in his senior international career for his country, earning himself all the plaudits and his nation their place in the World Cup finals.
No less than 14 of the France national team’s regulars in Dechamps’ squad play their club football in the Premier League – three for Arsenal (Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna as well as the perpetually injured Abou Diaby and young Yaya Sanogo), five for Newcastle United (Mathieu Debuchy, Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissokho, Loic Remy who is on loan and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa) two for Tottenham (Hugo Lloris and Etienne Capoue) and one for both Liverpool (Sakho) and Manchester United (Patrice Evra).
France’s qualification is fantastic news for the clubs with players involved mostly due to the impact it’ll have on the players’ attitude, morale, confidence and desire – a player who knows he is playing for his place in Dechamps’ squad and starting XI next summer is more likely to remain focused, committed and consistent for his club.
Likewise, a player whose nation has not qualified may take his foot off the gas – Arsenal fans may recall Andrey Arshavin’s dip in form, fitness and confidence, which coincided with Russia’s lack of qualification. It has an impact on the player at club level and oftentimes there will be a lack of focus, commitment, desire and even discipline, not just on the pitch but in training also.
Sakho’s crucial role in earning France their place in Brazil will surely have a huge impact on his confidence and belief at Anfield and the goals he scored as well as his overall performance on the night will be something Brendan Rodgers and his Reds teammates will be the indirect beneficiaries of.
Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud did not cover themselves in glory over the international break – their red and yellow cards respectively in the first-leg against Ukraine and sub-par performance will only be good thing for Arsenal where you can bet they’ll be working their socks off to ensure they don’t lose their favour with Arsene Wenger and Dechamps alike.
Cabaye, and Debuchy in particular were superb on the night and this will only be positive news for Alan Pardew at Newcastle where the Magpies have been performing well in the Premier League of late.
At present, Newcastle sit 9th place in the league and with such a huge morale and confidence boost for such a large portion of their first-team players, they could very well move higher up the table and be genuine contenders for a European place this term.
image: © korobukkuru