France have succeeded where Spain failed in their opening match by showing it is possible to play successfully without a proper striker.
Spain raised eyebrows when they started their Euro 2012 campaign without forwards, but the experiment failed as they were held to a 1-1 draw. Fernando Torres star-ted against Ireland in the following game and led the wor-ld champions to a 4-0 win.
France, who top Group D after two matches, have started with striker Karim Benze-ma but the Real Madrid forward has played in a deeper role than usual, often linking with Franck Ribery on the left flank against Ukraine and setting up both goals in a 2-0 win. “I’m not focusing on the fact that he does not score,” said Laurent Blanc. “He is an important player who links with the wing players. The most important thing is the movements of the players.”
Benzema teed up Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye and each time he was outside the penalty area when he passed the ball to the scorer.
For the opening goal, he was just outside the box, pas-sing the ball to his right for Menez to burst into the area and fire home. He was positioned even deeper for the second goal, feeding Cabaye with a perfect through ball.
Menez is used to playing without a centre forward at Paris St Germain as Carlo Ancelotti often plays him with Javier Pastore and Ne-ne, neither a genuine striker.
Menez also plays on the right flank for France with Ribery on the left and Benze-ma in a playmaking role.
And although Benzema is yet to score, Blanc has been pleased with his contribution.