Posted in Les Bleus, World Cup 2018

Olivier Giroud joins France’s top 10 record goal scorers

The road to Russia is a long one, but the French are doing enough in their group to make sure to stay on top of their game.

My eyes were on Olivier Giroud for Luxembourg v France and he did not disappoint. He struck twice in our 3-1 victory and he’s now in the top 10 goal scorers for Les Bleus.

In the 28th minute, Les Bleus went ahead after Giroud latched onto Djibril Sidibé’s pass. Luxembourg swiftly reacted by putting away a penalty six minutes later to tie things up at 1-1 after Matuidi brought down Daniel Da Mota in the area. Three minutes later, Griezmann saw that Les Bleus was back in front with a well-taken penalty after Sidibé was fouled by Da Mota.

Benjamin Mendy, one of the best passers in Europe, lived up to his reputation in the 77th minute when he assisted Giroud’s wicked header. Hot property Kylian Mbappé earned his first cap for Les Bleus when he replaced Payet in the 78th minute. 

Les Bleus now have 13 points from 5 games ahead of the qualifier against Sweden on June 9th.

Posted in Arsenal, PL

Man of the week: Olivier Giroud!

Arsenal v Crystal Palace - Premier League

On Sunday, Olivier Giroud scored a stinging scorpion kick against Crystal Palace earning him an early contender for goal of the season.

And it was wickedly delicious! 

Last evening, the Frenchman help Arsenal come back from 3-1 against Bournemouth by being involved in all 3 goals (2 assists), the equalizer he ended up scoring (3-3). Continue to do you, boy!

AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal - Premier League

Posted in Les Bleus, Reports

Les Bleus in 2016

I haven’t been updating My Heart Beats Football as I should, but it doesn’t mean that I am not following the beautiful game.

Every Les Bleus game this year was a joy to watch even their last game of 2016 against Côte d’Ivoire last evening, despite it being scoreless at the full-time whistle. Les Bleus have matured and flourished under Didier Deschamps and I enjoy watching them grow. Many critics and skeptics alike thought that without the likes of Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena, the team would’ve been a failure. To tell the honest truth, I was not scared over losing them. We had the likes of Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann to cover us. We made it to the Euro 2016 final and although we didn’t win, we got back up again.

Payet finally emerged and took centerstage. N’Golo had the world smacking their lips at his skills and Pogba shone on the world stage. Adil Rami came back. Areola is finally being noticed. As for the wonderful Hugo Lloris, well, as a captain, he did everything right and as a goalie, he has excelled where past French goalies hadn’t. I am proud of the entire team.

STATS 2016

^ Les Bleus played 17 games, won 13, and had only one defeat which was to Portugal in the final of the Euro 2016.

^ Dimitri Payet racked up the assists with 7

^ Our top scorers are Griezmann and Giroud with 8 goals a’ piece.

This is progress and I am proud to say that we’re going forward. I cannot complain about our campaign this year. Thank you for a beautiful 2016, Les Bleus and here’s to 2017. 

Posted in Les Bleus, World Cup 2018

WCQ: Kevin Gameiro shines in Les Bleus victory against Bulgaria

Les Bleus get is right against Bulgaria, but I was HAPPY for Gameiro the most!

This evening, Kevvy G (as I call him) ran off with the headlines after scoring a brace. This was his first start for Les Bleus since November 2011, but please, don’t get carry away. He is not replacing Olivier Giroud. 

Here’s how we lined up:

Les Bleus registered their first victory in the 2018 World Cup qualifying phase after that stalemate against Belarus. The Stade de France was given quite the scare when Bacary Sagna fouled Georgi Milanov and Mihail Aleksandrov converted from the spot in the 6th minute. Les Bleus responded in the 23rd minute through Kevin Gameiro who scored a superb header to make it 1-1. Three minutes later, Dimitri Payet’s cross finds the corner of the net making it 2-1. Antoine Greizmann joined the party in the 38th minute. Gameiro scored the last goal of the game in the 59th minute giving Les Bleus a much-needed boost.

Griezmann with his Euro 2016 Player of the Tournament award 

With this 4-1 victory, this is how Group A currently looks like:

4 pts – Netherlands

4 pts – France

4 pts – Sweden

3 pts – Bulgaria

1 pt – Belarus

0 pt – Luxembourg 

FUN FACT: No other player has scored more goals for France than Antoine Griezmann (8)

ALLEZ LES BLEUS!!

Posted in Les Bleus, World Cup 2018

WCQ: Disappointed with Les Bleus draw

Watching Les Bleus against Belarus last evening was a major disappointment given that this is the path to the 2018 World Cup. This is the path that Les Bleus have to take in order to secure their safe passage to Russia and they failed miserably during their first game. 

Well, that was a little harsh, but someone has to say it. 

via Twitter

Les Bleus played to a scoreless draw against a stern Belarus side that was unwilling to repeat their 3-1 loss to the French in 2012. I think Deschamps need to make better starting selections in terms of chemistry and synchronization. I didn’t see any of that out there last evening. Steve Mandanda barely saw the ball, so his clean sheet was justified. Giroud had a hat trick of lovely chances, but his first touch failed him severely. Varane enjoyed a much better game than the 3-1 victory in the friendly against Italy. Sissoko simply ran out of energy and steam. Nothing clicked and when Les Bleus doesn’t click, we don’t get the desired result.

However, I believe in this team and I hope that we’ll get it right in the next game.

ALLEZ LES BLEUS!!

Posted in Les Bleus! The Path

Seize: We are united!

This is it.

After two years of preparing, after Deschamps walked out, after a new crazy head coach took over, the moment France was waiting for have finally arrived: the last game of the Euro 2016 tournament. Play time was over. Tonight, it was do or die. Nerves had to take a back burner. Passion, spirit, and heart will take first place. Determination and strength will prevail. This was not a battle for the weak hearted.

Coach had yet to smile wholeheartedly, but he cracked jokes occasionally, took up for his boys when everyone else was dragging them down, and although he shouted at them during training or matches, he had wormed his way into their hearts unintentionally. He was going to be missed.

Joint coach was the total opposite. Ray was open, honest, funny, and a lover. The boys had immediately gravitated towards him from day one and by the second day, everyone had his personal cell number.

Tonight, the boys were not only going into battle for France, but for their managers. They wanted to write their own story in the history book and create everlasting memories.

Griezmann rolled up his socks and took one last sip of mate. Giroud pulled his jersey on. Pogba double-checked his shin pads. Koscielny quietly drummed his fingers on his thigh. Kanté picked imaginary fluff off his jersey sleeve. Evra quietly meditated. Lloris sat calmly observing his team with a watery smile. There were no finer men he’d rather go into battle with for the last time this summer.

“Gentlemen,” Marcus greeted the team probably for the last time as he walked in with the twin. “Are we ready to go out there and give it the best shot?”

“And he still doesn’t smile!” Giroud teased.

“Oh, he’ll smile tonight,” Ray assured him.

“It’s been a blast working with you guys in the last few months. We’ve been through many things together, but tonight, tonight is where it begins, not end. Tonight, we’re going to go out there, fearless, ready to fight for what are rightfully ours and France’s.” Marcus looked at every individual as he gave the pre-game speech for probably the last time. “Tonight, we’re going to give the French people something to treasure in years to come. We’re going to make them smile. We’re going to prove everyone wrong. Our fans are our driving force and we’re going to do this for them.

“We owe it to them. So let’s do this, and make Euro 2016 ours to remember. Who are we?

“LES BLEUS!”

“And whose house is this?”

“OURS

“Allons-y!”

GAME DAY

Portugal v France

Date: 10 July 2016

Venue: Stade de France, Paris

2-2

In the 86th minute of the final Euro showdown, the score was 2-2. Time was ticking by, but Marcus was calmer than the entire Stade de France. He stood by the sideline looking on at the game as fans stared nervously at him expecting to find the answer hidden somewhere in his smart, dark YSL suit. Ray had his fingers crossed tightly, willing that the boys quickly find a goal to avoid extra-time. Tired legs could lose an important game especially when all the substitutions were already made.

The entire Stade de France was quiet. Everyone was afraid to breathe. Portugal was awarded a free kick and Marcus clenches his fist, his jaw tightening. If Portugal manages to score and win the … Hugo Lloris caught the header and yelled at his mates as they launched a counter-attack.

The fans looked at the clock.

89th minute.

Martial raced into the opposition’s half dancing with the ball. He quickly laid it off to Griezmann, who twisted and turned, eventually passing to Matuidi, who launched it at goal, but Rui Patricio made the save giving Portugal a lifeline. Marcus gritted his teeth, Ray slapped his thigh and Lloris grunted in disappointment. They now had an additional four minutes to win the game otherwise, Coach will have a reprimanding tirade if they were to play extra-time. Portugal wasn’t letting up so easy, though. They played down the left and made an attempt at the French goal, which Lloris managed to tip over for a corner. The Portuguese corner came to nothing, and Payet led the French attack this time. Down the right-hand side he ran, laying the ball off to Martial, who quickly manages to find Giroud. The forward played a neat one-two with Griezmann, before finding the back of a stunned Patricio’s net.

2-3!

The Stade de France erupted. Ray and the substitutes screamed in joy and hugged each other. Everyone was reacting to Giroud’s sure winner except Marcus, who was waiting for the final whistle to sound. Two minutes later, the Stade de France was alive and buzzing with joy, happiness, and tears. Marcus smiled as he finally soaked in the beautiful atmosphere. They have done it. They have won Euro 2016 and it was going to be the most memorable tournament ever for the delighted French people. Not because of the struggles they had to overcome, but because of the smile on Coach’s face. It was the first time that France have seen him smile and it lit up the entire stadium. Who needed stadium lights when his smile was the biggest prize of the bittersweet victory?

The team mobbed the coach and hoisted him in the air. They yelled in happiness as he threatened to have their hides if they dropped him. A few seconds later, they hoisted a surprised Ray in the air also. France was going to have a memorable summer all thanks to their wonderful team.

 

NOTES:

^ I had written this particular victory ending with Germany in mind before the tournament. It was easy to switch Germany with Portugal for this chapter.

^ Once again, congrats Portugal, and Les Bleus, merci mille fois! This wasn’t your chapter to write this tournament, but it will come.

REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.

Posted in Euro 2016 France, Les Bleus

Congrats Portugal, merci Les Bleus

Portugal v France 1-0

*sighs* It wasn’t to be for France in the end after all. But I am super proud of this team. In a few years, this team is going to be unstoppable. The only thing I disliked tonight was Deschamps not substituting Matuidi for Kanté. Now, that the Euro is over, I can concentrate on other things on hand.

Griezmann (6), Cristiano (3), and Giroud (3) were the top scorers of the tournament. I know the boys are disappointed and heartbroken now, but they’ll get over it in time to come. We still have our story to write. This is not the end.

This was my last Euro as I mentioned a month aback. In a few days or so, I’ll decide what I’m doing with the blog. Heck of a ride! This tournament.

Posted in Les Bleus! The Path

Quinze: This is our house!

GAME DAY

Germany v France

Date: 07 July 2016

Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseilles

Hearts beat erratically out of chests as the French team walked out of the tunnel to whistles and cheers. This match was decisive and Coach had warned them that there was no room for error tonight because “You’ve spent two years preparing for this moment, and any result other than a victory is not acceptable.” The team was also told to play as if their lives depended on it. Ray was both anxious and nervous and he took to biting his fingernails during the speech. He knew what was at stake if Les Bleus made even one mistake.

“We’re going to do fine, Ray,” Giroud assured him. “Don’t worry,” he turned to Griezmann. “Our little Monsieur Plus will score and dedicate the goal to you. Right?”

Griezmann nodded, his head already on the game on hand. “Of course,”

Marcus patted Ray’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, bro, today, Die Mannschaft will die!” he playfully promised.

Mandanda pointed at him. “I see what you did there,”

When the coaches emerged, the German head coach, Joachim Löw walked over to greet the French coaches. Marcus scoffed and looked at the man’s offered hand. “If I were you, I’d keep my hand to myself.”

Löw only smiled and wished the French good luck to which Marcus harshly replied, “We don’t need it,”

Ray smiled at the German coach and politely replied, “Merci,”

His twin scoff. “Would it kill you not to be nice for once? Don’t bother. The only thing that man would be smelling tonight is defeat.”

The match started well for both sides, notably for the French. Griezmann fired away at the Germans forcing Manuel Neuer into a save. A few minutes after a nervy start from the Germans, they gained rhythm and control of the game forcing the French to retreat to their half. Marcus uttered a grunt when Lloris was forced to make a wonderful save to deny the Germans an early lead. He got up and started pacing by the sideline prompting the French fans to start singing the ‘La Marseillaise’ at the top of their lungs. Marcus cringed, wishing they’ll shut up so he could concentrate on the game at hand. Some of them were butchering the anthem and it … “Lazy bastard! My goodness, Giroud, what the heck was that?” he shouted. “You call that a run? Is that even a run? What in the world?” he threw his hands in the air and shook his head. “You won’t outrun Tom Cruise with a run like that. Heck, even I can run faster than that!””

“Germany is getting the better of France,” the stadium commentator relied to his faithful listeners. “They currently have the French pegged back in their own half as they boss possession. If France wants to prove their worth, this is definitely the match as many felt that the French have not been properly tested as yet. Their head coach is currently shaking his head at Giroud’s running blunder.”

Löw started asking more of his team when Griezmann hit the side netting. He was secretly delighted when Marcus slapped his thigh in frustration for the umpteenth time. He wondered what the Frenchman’s problem was anyway. Didn’t he know that Germany had a better winning advantage against the French on the big stage? He couldn’t wait to beat the French and send them packing.

“Germany is hogging ball possession as expected,” the commentator slightly chuckled. “But Marcus is not throwing in the white flag. He knew this would happen, and he changed tactics for tonight’s match knowing that France wouldn’t be seeing much of the ball. They’re currently playing on the counter attack and … is that a handball from Schweinsteiger?” the commentator’s tone excitedly rose when the referee waved a yellow card at the tall, lanky German midfielder. “PENALTY FOR FRANCE!!”

Ray and the benched players rose and walked to the sideline to support their team just as Griezmann stepped up to the spot. Marcus had his hands on his waist. The referee blows the whistle and the Frenchman calmly struck home sending the big German goalie the wrong way.

Löw grimaced.

Marcus whooped in joy.

Ray and the substitutes screamed.

The Stade Velodrome was rocking.

“FRANCE IS IN THE LEAD! Great penalty at the death from Griezmann. And he’s doing his now infamous ‘Hotline Bling’ celebration. You can’t hate him. I don’t care who you are, you just can’t hate him. Oh, now he’s rushing over to the sideline.”

Fans erupted as Griezmann rushed over to his mates and hugged Ray. “This one’s for you, coach!”

Giroud was grinning like an adorable fool. “I hope it calms you down until the next half,”

The pressure still mounted for the French in the second half, but they were crossing all their t’s and dotting all their i’s as far as Marcus was concerned. He stuck a stick of cinnamon chewing gum in his mouth and made a sour face as Koscielny’s header went wide. Hugo Lloris was an impenetrable wall keeping everything out and Ray thought it was his best match yet. The first half had belonged to the French captain.

“We’re heading into twenty remaining minutes plus additional stoppage time,” the commentator relay. “France is still in the lead. Who would’ve thought that a young man from Paris would’ve been leading this team to a possible victory against the Germans for the first time since 1958? The French coach is practically outwitting the experienced Löw. It’s as if Marcus has no respect for the ones before him! Disrespectful and shameless! Qualities that you won’t see coaches have lately.”

Ray was on his feet encouraging the fans to make more noise just as Marcus replaced Dimitri Payet for N’Golo Kanté. Someone threw a French flag at him and he had draped it over his shoulders like a cape as he raised his hands in the air.

“Get in boys!” Marcus clapped and shouted from the sideline infuriating the German boss. “This is our house! Show them the door.”

“The French coach is such a motivator by the sideline there! He’s in high spirits and why shouldn’t he be? His team is in front and they have one leg in the final courtesy a Griezmann penalty. Oh, oh! This looks like trouble for the Germans. Pogba’s lifted it in, away by Neuer, and MR.HOTLINEBLING STABS HOME FOR A 2-0 LEAD!! PARIS, THE FRENCH ARE COMING! THIS SURELY IS THE END FOR GERMANY!”

Marcus and Ray hugged each other as the team jumped on them. This goal was surely the path to the finals. It didn’t matter what Germany did after, they were done for. The goal lifted spirits around the stadium.

“ALLEZ LES BLEUS! ALLEZ LES BLEUS! ALLEZ LES BLEUS!” the French fans sang, drowning out the Germans and believing in their team more than ever.

Lloris made a clinical save in stoppage time denying Germany.

The French fans urged the referee to blow the whistle.

The dejected German fans looked glum and Marcus was certain the majority of them were now sorry for making fun of the French during pre-match. He didn’t care. This was what he was hired for. This was the moment he dreamt of. The moment he lived for and now that it was happening, he felt nothing but joy inside for the French nation who was still reeling from the terrorist attacks. At the beginning of the tournament, they had doubted his capabilities as the new coach, doubted his selection, and even poked fun at a few players. Now, they were united and the players were responsible for it. He hoped that France could bring home the victory on Sunday because the nation deserved to be happy after taking a harsh beating.

“THEY’RE THROUGH TO THE FINALS! FRANCE DID IT! Only time will tell if this new French generation will rule in years to come.”

The team celebrated in front of their fans in one united accord taking inspiration from the Icelandic ‘Viking Chant’. Marcus shook his head and turned to his brother. “This is going to bother a lot of people,”

Ray only shrugged. “They should be honored that we’re paying homage to them.”

Marcus had skipped the mixed zone after France defeated Germany and opted to sit it out in the locker room as he strategized for the final with his brother. Two days later, he found himself in front of the nosy journalists with Hugo Lloris and Bacary Sagna.

“We want to put a smile on the faces of the French people. We can’t change the past, but we are trying hard to build for the future.” Sagna explained.

Marcus gulped some water from the glass in front of him as his captain reminiscences about the tragic events last November. “We’ve had some very tough times this year, both with those tragic events (the terror attack) but also with events that have gone on off the field. But we’re even prouder to be on the pitch to feel the entire French population behind us, to feel this happiness which is shared between the players and the French people. That gives us strength and is lovely to see.

“The French people really needed to escape via this competition, and sport has this strength: to unite people. We are currently experiencing that. But we still have one step to take, the hardest one, but one’s that’s worth it.”

Sagna and Marcus nodded in approval.

“Are you ready to face Cristi…”

Marcus cut the offending journalist off. “We won’t be playing against Cristiano, but Portugal. And yes, we’re ready. The team is in the right mind and they have the right approach to the most important goal at hand. Tout vient à point à qui sait attendre.

“Joachim Löw thinks that the twenty-four teams were too many during this Euro. Do you agree with him?”

“Then he should’ve forfeited Germany before the tournament. He didn’t say this before he arrived so why bring it up now? Had he beaten us he would’ve never sung that tune. That is call BTLT.”

“BTLT?” someone asked from the front just as Lloris and Sagna looked at their coach in confusion.

Marcus nodded. “Bitter typical loser tantrum.”

“Löw said he expects France to win given that Portugal hasn’t convinced him in this tournament. Are you that confident?”

“On Sunday,” Marcus began. “Les Bleus is going to play in front of France and they’re going to do her proud. They’re going to give their all while wearing their hearts on the sleeve. They’re going to give the people of France something to remember in years to come. We don’t need luck. We have France with us.”

 

NOTES:

^ Antoine Griezmann is known as ‘Grizou’, ‘Grizi’ or simply ‘Anto’ to his French colleagues. Giroud decided he must add to it by calling him ‘our little Monsieur Plus’. I think I like this one better given the circumstances that Griezmann had to overcome to reach where he is now. Could you imagine that he was told he was too small to play football (just like Messi)? Look where he is now. Leading France to victory.

^ Prior to Germany v France, France’s only competitive finals win against Germany was a third-place play-off in 1958. The final score? 6-3.

^ Snippets of Lloris and Sagna’s words of the interview was taken via telegraph.co.uk.

^ Tout vient à point à qui sait attendre – All things come to those who wait (French)

^ ANTOINE GRIEZMANN! You can’t hate him. Watch clips of his wonderful performance against Germany here:

REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.