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France aren’t broken, so Deschamps won’t change for World Cup final

It’s one of the oldest footballing maxims out there, and it exists in different idioms and cultures. Giovanni Trapattoni used to say that a good coach could make a team 5 percent better, but a bad one — or, to be a bit more civil, a coach who makes wrong decisions — could make a side 30 percent worse.

Diego Simeone served up his own version in his recent leaked WhatsApp j’accuse by saying that results were ordinarily 90 percent down to players, but when you have a disaster of a coaching staff (read: Jorge Sampaoli), then they can only influence things up to 60 percent.wholesale nfl jerseys cheap

France vs. Belgium at St. Petersburg’s version of the Death Star was a study in two contrasting managers. One, Didier Deschamps, lives by football’s version of the Hippocratic Oath: above all, do no harm. His France team do not have a distinct footballing identity beyond the Deschamps version of Hulk Hogan’s four demandments, only Didi has three: defend, work hard and wait for something to happen. There is no multiplier effect tactically, no attempt to create particular synergies between his players through sophisticated movement and positioning. It’s about trusting your big guns to do something of their own volition while raising the barricades at the back.11

That’s why you see France with three central midfielders and poor Paul Pogba asked to play little more than a bouncer role in front of the back four. And because that’s not enough, he gets help from the ubiquitous N’Golo Kante (if defensive players won awards, he’d be a shoo-in) and Blaise Matuidi too. All this in front of a back four with two safety-first fullbacks.

The other is Roberto Martinez who, believing in the added value his tactical mind brings, conjures up complicated schemes to get the best out of his side. When it works, it’s very good. When it doesn’t — and against France, it fell as flat as a road-graded waffle — it’s a disaster.nfl jersey cheap wholesale china

Before we get into it, let’s remind ourselves that Martinez has some mitigating circumstances. The first is that unlike Deschamps, he wasn’t born with a silver spoon. He didn’t have the same sort of stellar career as a player and wasn’t handed a top team straight out of retirement, either. He got where he is because he has a clearly defined approach to football and a reputation as a guy who makes teams more than the sum of their parts. So for him, going the Deschamps’ route of laissez-faire was not an option.

The other was that he was missing Thomas Meunier, who may not be a superstar outside his own household but was a critical cog in Belgium’s machine. He was the natural right-sided defender who could be deployed in a back four or as a wing-back. But Meunier was suspended for this match and his absence set off a chain of events that ultimately proved to be Belgium’s undoing.