the construction sites of Thierry Henry at the head of the Blueberries

The new Bleuets coach must put a team used to disappointment back on track. And prepare for the Paris Olympics in ten months.

A new page will be written in the history of the France U23 team. Thierry Henry, who succeeded Sylvain Ripoll after six years as coach, will take place on the bench at the Marcel-Picot stadium in Nancy on Thursday. Les Bleuets host Denmark (6:30 p.m.) in a friendly match, before starting the Euro 2025 qualifiers in Slovakia on Monday (6 p.m.). The start of work for Henry.

A coat of arms to restore

A year ago, the CIES Football Observatory (Centre International d’Etude du Sport) made France the second country in the world exporting footballers behind Brazil. Despite its flourishing nuggets, the Blueberries have not finished on the podium at the Euro since 2002, eleven editions in a row. They did not p the first round at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and had not even qualified for the previous five Olympics.

SEE ALSO – Henry’s first training session as Blueberries coach

At Euro 2023, Sylvain Ripoll’s team, defeated in the quarter-finals by Ukraine (1-3), has again been talked about for its low quality of play, especially in relation to its workforce. France pales in comparison to Germany and Spain, dominant among the under-21s. Thierry Henry will have the mission to create a craze. It goes through the game and the results. “The U21s are the French team, you play to win tournaments»,reminded Henry.

Which players to rely on?

The first starting lineup of Bleuets version Thierry Henry will be very scrutinized. It will give the trend as to the players brought to pull the team up. The ex-striker could rely in defense on Castello Lukeba, 20, 12 caps on the clock, moved from Lyon to Leipzig this summer. “I am one of the oldest, my objective will be to bring my experience acquired by participating in the last Euro“Lukeba told The Team this week.

Rayan Cherki and Bradley Barcola, former teammates at Olympique Lyonnais. Federico Pestellini / Panoramic

In the middle, the football planet will follow with attention the prodigy Warren Zaire-Emery, 17 years old only and holder during the four matches of the PSG this season. But the executives are especially hoped for in attack. Rayan Cherki (Lyon, 12 caps, 5 goals)is an outstanding talent with exceptional qualities“praised Henry. We will have to watch the neo-Parisian Bradley Barcola and the neo-Lensois Elye Wahi, as well as the Rennais Arnaud Kalimuendo, dean of the Bleuets (22 years old, 22 caps, 5 goals).

Manage the group and redo the icing

So far, coach Thierry Henry has had a chaotic career, far from that of the player (123 selections, 51 goals with the France team). His first experience as N.1 at AS Monaco only lasted three months (October 2018 – January 2019). Hired by Impact Monreal, in MLS, in November 2019, he left Canada a year and three months later. “Separation is too painful for me and my children», he justifies, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were also his periods as istant to Roberto Martinez with Belgium (2016-18, 2021-23), which he left on a bitter failure in the first round of the Qatari World Cup. “The mistakes you will make supported Henry. It is in chess that you learn the most. […] I learned a lot, the Covid year changed me a lot. You learn a lot on a human level, it really helped me. You get an education but sometimes the players re-educate you.In addition to perfecting his management of men, questioned in Monaco in particular, Henry (46) also aspires to take off his career as a coach.

The Olympic Games, the big deadline

There, I think of Denmark“Warned a Henry eager, as the sporting maxim wants, to take the matches one after the other. But the Olympics,if we talk about the event, it’s extraordinary, recognized the 1998 world champion. Marie-Jo Pérec, Flessel, the Barjots…Les Bleuets have the players to aim for gold at home next summer. Any result other than a medal would be considered a disappointment or even a failure.

In its history, France has only won two Olympic medals in men’s football: silver (1900) and gold (1984). Garnish the prize list, Henry has time to prepare for it, a little. Counting the current streak, the manager has three international windows to work with his group this year and then will have at least one in 2024, a few months before the start of summer. “But you have to prepare for qualifying for Euro 2025Henry insisted. This will also be an objective for the France team.

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