Tag: Shyam

France: Where Did It Go Wrong?

France, the favourites to win EURO 2020 following their World Cup victory, crashed out in disappointing fashion on Monday night. Shyam takes a deep dive into why they lost against Switzerland.

30th June 2021

By Shyam

Cockiness and Complacency: made in France

“No spirit, no togetherness and a poor attitude,” Patrick Vieira said with an expression mixed with disbelief, disgust and anger after witnessing France’s capitulation vs Switzerland. Stinging words, but reflective of the performance put in by Les Bleus, as they threw away a 3-1 lead to the Swiss before being beaten on penalties. Coming into this tournament, France were clear favourites. And why wouldn’t they be? Reigning world champions, world-class players in nearly every position and an experienced manager in Deschamps.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that there was an air of complacency about them throughout the EUROs. From the media’s comments before the game to Pogba’s celebration after his goal (that included no less than 6 unique celebrations), the overall impression was, “we’ve won the tournament already. These games are just a formality”. One can only imagine what’s going through the minds of every French player, journalist and fan following their humbling. 

Formation, formation, formation? A problem with France’s foundation?

However, France’s problems ran deeper than just a bad attitude. Didier Deschamps was forced into a 3-at-the-back, having no fit left-backs available for selection. Previously Deschamps experimented with little success with the 3-4-1-2, with the conclusion being it demanded too much discipline from Pogba. This formation demanded that he play as one of two midfielders and failed to get the best out of the attack.

Now add to the mix, an out-of-form Clement Lenglet and a makeshift left-back in the form of Adrien Rabiot and you have a recipe for disaster. The disconnect between the midfield and attack prevented France from creating meaningful chances and Deschamps acknowledged this, switching to a back 4 eventually.

What about the real France?

Deschamps switched to a back 4, and suddenly for 25 minutes we saw the “real France”. Les Bleus dazzled with free-flowing, electric football culminating in a 30-yard screamer from their poster boy Paul Pogba. It was maybe the first time we saw the team we expected. The one that created chance after chance, putting relentless pressure on the opposition until they got their goal. Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba also showed us how their individual brilliance could conjure a goal out of nothing. 

The collapse

However, France inexplicably collapsed in the last ten minutes. Following some particularly shocking defending from Kimpembe and Varane, Switzerland had equalized. The penalties, the ultimate test of composure, were always going to be a struggle. Granit Xhaka, the Swiss captain, had the entire team energized and the passion was palpable. Judging by the shell-shocked look on the faces of the French, the dreaded thought of losing probably played on their mind and resulted in them losing the shootout.

Is Deschamps to blame?

Deschamps of France

France’s problems could also be attributed to the squad. When choosing a 26-man team from a country that possesses such unbelievable talent, Deschamps was always going to leave some players out. But his decision to take two left-backs, coming off of long-term injuries, was one that proved costly. Lucas Digne and Lucas Hernandez both got injured in the group stages forcing Deschamps to switch away from his preferred formation.

Other decisions such as taking Moussa Sissoko over Camavinga and Ndombele were questionable at best (and criminal at worst). The fact of the matter is that France underperformed with the set of players they had. The shot of Mbappe walking alone to the tunnels with no players consoling him spoke volumes about the French squad. A squad of superstars lacking cohesion.

France will probably stick with Deschamps for the next World Cup in Qatar, but expect to see some changes in the squad, the tactics and most importantly the mentality of the team. 

The Fall Of The Old Lady

After years of dominance in Serie A, Juventus are set for their worst season in years. Why has the Old Lady fallen? Read this article by Shyam to find out…

14th May

By Shyam

The Events

“It’s a collapse. What we saw from Juventus was embarrassing,” Fabio Capello said from his Sky Italia studio after witnessing Juventus’ humiliating 3-0 loss to AC Milan. He wasn’t wrong. The Bianconeri looked tired, uninspired and only threatened in spells with Ronaldo looking isolated throughout the 90 minutes. Performances like these have characterized Juventus’ season.

A tough start to the season under Pirlo was made worse as the squad was plagued with injuries and personality clashes, of course culminating in the harrowing night in Turin where Sérgio Conceição’s Porto claimed a deserved victory, leaving Juve with yet another disappointing Champions League campaign.

Where did it all go wrong?

So where did it all go wrong? We all know success comes in cycles, but nobody expected the fall of the Old Lady to come like this, especially after their domestic domination for close to a decade. To be potentially finishing outside the top 4 is nothing short of a disaster for Agnelli and all associated with the club.

Why has this dramatic fall happened? Well firstly, I think we need to start with the manager. Juventus have often been criticized for not having an identity, but I think it’s clear what they’re supposed to be. A 3-5-2 out of possession and a 4-4-2 with the ball with an XI of energetic counter-pressers who can control possession and play incisive passes between the lines.

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Execution, execution, execution

The problem lies with the execution – aimless crossing, predictable passing and speculative long shots have all become a common occurrence during Juventus attacks. With the appointment of Pirlo, one thing that was expected was for him to breathe life back into the midfield. Fluid movement and exchanges accompanied by hard running and tackling, much like the midfield he was such an instrumental part of. However, it’s been anything but.

The lack of ball progression offered by players like Rabiot, Ramsey and Bentancur creates a huge disconnect between the defence and attack which is especially harmful in the games vs other big sides like Inter and Lazio. 


However, there’s only so much Pirlo can do with this squad. “We make life difficult for ourselves” is a common remark heard from him in press conferences and it has rung true across the season. From Kulusevski’s back passes against Torino to Bentancur’s inane back pass against Porto, mistakes have dotted the season and done no good for the confidence of the players.

The players have also struggled with momentum, with Federico Chiesa’s electric March being halted by injury and Kulusevski managing only 1 goal in the entirety of 2021. Juventus have failed to fill the gaps left in their squad by major departures and their recruitment has been short-sighted with little to no thought as to how to integrate new players into the squad.


Ultimately, the club that has dominated Serie A for so long and has almost been synonymous with Italian football for the better part of a decade serves as a warning. With big clubs across Europe like Dortmund, Barcelona, Arsenal on the verge of collapse perhaps they are a few lessons to take from this. Don’t appoint an ex-player as a manager if they do not have the proper experience.

Recruitment should be done with the long term health of the squad in mind, not just the near future. And perhaps most important of all –  a rebuild, however painful and expensive it may be, should not be put off until you’re left with an unhappy fanbase, ageing players and no trophies.

The 2021 Grammys

5th April 2021

By Shyam

The biggest night in music, the Grammys, were held on Monday 15th March. After what was a long and polarizing year, many fans (including myself) were looking forward to a night of celebration. A celebration of music, of people and the art they produce. However, as usual, they arrived amid a cloud of controversy.

The Recording Academy’s decision to snub multiple major artists once again brought up questions about their selection process. This year, however, was the most controversial. The Weeknd released his fourth studio album “After Hours“, which was received well by critics and fans alike for its immersive production, flawless songwriting and well-crafted tracklist. A notable highlight was the track “Blinding Lights” which peaked at number one in thirty-four countries and shattered record after record on its way to 2 billion streams (and counting). To state it in no uncertain terms, The Weeknd was the biggest personality in music this year. It’s easy to understand the backlash when the Grammys chose not to include him in any nominations while offering a weak and quite frankly insincere apology when confronted about it. Many artists over the years mentioned the “lack of transparency” in the voting process and have alleged that favouritism and prejudice play a role when deciding which artists get nominated. The Weeknd echoed these thoughts, calling out the “opaque election process” and stating he would no longer be submitting his work to the Grammys. The Grammys losing the support of (arguably) the biggest artist in the world right now, and numerous others is a pathetic reflection on how the industry as a whole treats artists and the work they produce.

However, it wasn’t all bad. Women made history at the 2021 Grammys with Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish winning Album and Song of the year respectively with “Folklore” and “Everything I Wanted”. Megan Thee Stallion also won Best New Artist (although I would have preferred Phoebe Bridgers for Punisher) and H.E.R picked up her 3rd Grammy for her powerful single “I Can’t Breathe” which came in light of the police brutality that plagued America across the year. A big step in the right direction. In a year characterized by hardship, political turmoil and the pandemic, creators used their platforms to speak on issues that resonated with people and they deserved to be recognized for their work. The under-representation in the Grammys is not only insensitive but irresponsible. We can only hope next year is better.

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