Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye both started for France last night as they come from two goals down to beat Iceland 3-2 in Valenciennes.
Goals from Birkir Bjarnason and one time Toon target Kolbeinn Sigthorsson gave the visitors an unlikely lead, but Mathieu Debuchy – a current NUFC target, allegedly, Franck Ribery and Adil Rami ensured the hosts extended their unbeaten run to 19 games.
The most important part of all of this is seeing how our boys played of course. Whilst Yohan Cabaye seems to be a nailed on cert to go to the tournament, he had a quiet game and was withdrawn just shy of the hour mark. Hatem Ben Arfa was withdrawn at the same time as Yohan but his chances of going to the tournament will have surely been enhanced after his showing last night.
Full of running and link-up play, our dynamic number ten showed flashes of brilliance and looked to be the only one who was going to make something happen for Les Blues. He combined well with Karim Benzema, Yohan Cabaye and, perhaps interestingly, Mathieu Debuchy on the right side of the pitch, which could give cause for excitement amongst fans of NUFC.
A glimpse of things to come perhaps? We’ll see…
Anyway, I’m made up for Hatem. He played well last night and showed he would be worth taking to the tournament, but then perhaps I’m just being biased? Nobody would deserve it more than him though, not after what he has been through these past couple of seasons and the way he has come back from it all.
He’s had one major injury and another fairly serious one not long after that, so to come back and be able to put in the performances he has done is quite remarkable really. Not only that, but he has added another side to his game over the course of the season which is basically a willingness to do the dirty work along with being a game-changer going forward.
I hope he goes, I really do, and I guess we’ll find out soon enough. I just hope that if he does then he doesn’t prick the interest of another club, or pick up an injury, or come back tired for our charge on Europe next season!
Les faits saillants….
P.S – Congratulations to Tim Krul also who has made the Holland squad and will be going to the tournament, albeit only as a likely backup to Maarten Stekelenburg. It will still be a great experience for Timmy though, of that I’m sure.