Undefeated France Aim to Topple Favorited Americans in Round 3 Marquee Match

France (2-0) aims to test the top-ranked Americans (2-0) and claim their spot among the world’s best.

The United States enters the third game of the 2015 IFAF World Championship as the favorite, having never lost a game in the three tournaments they have played in. France’s record since first entering this tournament in 2003 is a paltry 3-8. But ‘Les Bleus’ have improved in every tournament, and under head coach Patrick Esume, are playing on a very high level having won easily over both Brazil and Australia.

However, this will be the first true test for Esume and his troops. USA head coach Dan Hawkins is aiming to win its third straight title and opened with victories over Mexico (30-6) and Japan (43-18). As powerful as the United States has been playing – the U.S. gained a record 580 yards and ran a record 74 total plays vs. Japan and recorded a record eight sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss against Mexico – Team USA is vulnerable. Against Japan’s secondary, quarterbacks Kevin Burke and Dylan Favre threw three interceptions in an otherwise solid performance.

USA free safety Curtis Slater;

“Being the United States we have a big target on our backs and everyone is going to give us their best shot. We just have to make sure we’re doing our job and stay on top of that.”

Team USA

USA RB Sadale Foster was Game MVP against Japan

On the other hand the American’s receiving corps have been prolific so far in Canton. Wide receiver Trent Steelman had 7 receptions against Japan, which is joint fourth all-time in a single game Luc Meecham’s continued what he started against Mexico, averaging 23.6 yards per reception versus Japan, which ranks seventh all-time in tourney competition.

However, France head coach Esume feels good about his team’s chances;

“We’re going to play this game to win. We’re not going in there trying to survive against the U.S. – we’re playing to win. We obviously know that the U.S. is the team to beat, by far, but we’ll try to get our guys to believe in themselves and what we do and then I think coach Val (defensive coordinator Bob Valesente) and I came up with a good plan and we’re going to try to execute it.”

France’s offense has come out hot in both of their games so far in Canton. The French have scored 84 combined points in two matches, highlighted by kick returner Anthony Dablé 92-yard kick-off return against Australia and and IFAF record-breaking 102-yard return he spectacularly set only three days earlier against Brazil. Dable, who plays for Europe’s top-ranked team and EUROBOWL champions Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in Germany, and Guillaume Rioux are dangerous receivers that have the USA secondary on alert.

Slater on the French receiving corps;

“I personally know three of the guys because they play in Germany with me, so I know their receiving corps will provide us with some good competition. We know that they’re going to throw the ball and we know that we’re going to have to execute our assignments that we practice each day.”

That said, France’s running game is no slouch. Running backs Stephan Yepmo and Nicolas Khandar combined for over 200 yards rushing against Australia. Esume hoping to have both phases of his offense humming against the USA.

“What really encouraged me was to see how well we ran the ball, especially in the second game (vs. Australia). Under the conditions we had, when the rain was coming down like crazy, we couldn’t really throw the ball and that’s one of our strengths, throwing the ball and getting out guys that can run out in space. We couldn’t do that, yet we were able to control and dominate the line of scrimmage and run the ball. That was encouraging to see. Against the U.S. we’ve got to put all phases together – offense, defense and special teams and the running game and passing game – and we’ve got to do it all.”

Watch the game live July 15, kickoff is at 7:00 PM EDT in Canton, Ohio.

All games will be broadcast live and streamed globally on ESPN3 in the United States, on ESPN International broadband channels where available, and at BigTimeSports.com.

John McKeon
John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.
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