World Cup Editorial: Lemerre’s Lack Of Tactical Vision Could Hit France’s WC Double Plan

5/22/2002. France will not win the World Cup because of their obsolete tactics. Says who? We at SoccerAge.com believe that Roger Lemerre’s lack of vision will be fatal for the “Bleus” chances to land a second World Cup in four years.

Let’s face it: Roger Lemerre, who recently put pen to paper for a four-year extension with the French national team, has brought no change to a system designed by his maestro predecessor, Aimé Jacquet.

Lemerre tried to amend Jacquet’s system just one time, against Russia, three years ago. And France were defeated. Faced with this negative experiment, Lemerre wisely decided to stick, no matter what, to Jacquet’s trademark 4-2-3-1 formation.

So far, so good: under Lemerre’s direction, France qualified for Euro 2000 and won in extra-time against Italy. A rare double after les Bleus’ success two years before in the World Cup. But wasn’t it widely something to expect given the sheer quality of their squad, with names like Zidane, Trezeguet, Pires or veterans Blanc and Deschamps?

Now France are losing their winning backbone piece by piece. And this is exposing more and more Lemerre’s lack of tactical ideas.

Example: against Belgium, France often looked unable to break down the Rode Duivels’ defensive wall. Christophe Dugarry and Youri Djorkaeff never gave any edge or support to David Trezeguet first and Djibril Cissé later, totally stranded up front.

The result was there for all to see: Belgian central defenders Jacky Peeters and Glen De Boeck passing the ball in complete freedom (and complete disbelief) in front of a French team failing to push the pressure up. And without Zidane, it all seemed even more complicated.

What did Lemerre to win against France’s puny neighbours? Nothing but spot-for-spot changes. No second forward added, no offensive instructions given to the right or left back. Nothing. Lemerre is short of ideas, and he won’t be able to rely on his bunch of (ageing) stars for much longer.

Nobody has pointed this out until now. And France (the country and its national team) are still trapped in a haze of “effortless superiority”, which they don’t have anymore.