The opening day of the 2010 FIFA World Cup saw two less than impressive draws. The second match of the day saw France and Uruguay play out to a scoreless draw, prompting many football fans to criticize the controversial French national team yet again. After a less than stellar – and extraordinarily lucky – qualifying campaign, France now find themselves in a winnable group, but they’ll need to improve to do so.
Nevertheless, with the squad at their disposal they should have no problems advancing if they improve in these three ways:
Against Uruguay the French side lined up with only one striker in Nicolas Anelka. The result? The Chelsea forward got little to no supply up top, and with Franck Ribery rarely cutting inside Anelka looked lost and isolated. France certainly has the talent when it comes to strikers – look no further than the fact that Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema couldn’t get a spot in the side. Thierry Henry, despite his blatant cheating against Ireland, still has what it takes due to his speed and finishing ability, and even if Domenech refuses to start him there is always Andre Pierre Gignac or Djibril Cisse.
If there’s one player in the whole French squad that’s in form, it’s Florent Malouda. The Chelsea winger was virtually forgotten about at Stamford Bridge until he burst onto the scene in the latter half of the Premier League season, but since then he has scored, assisted, and torched defenses throughout Europe. Sidney Govou was nearly silent in the opening match against Uruguay and offered no scoring threat. Malouda can get to the end line and whip in crosses or can cut inside and score for himself. Either way, he must start.
The ironic thing about France’s approach to the first match was that they played one up top to load the central midfield, but then sprayed the ball wide to Franck Ribery at every chance. As a result, the loaded midfield didn’t have a chance to shine, leaving three of France’s most talented players out of the match. Jeremy Toulalan, Abou Diaby, and Yoann Gourcuff are three of the best central midfielders in the tournament, and if France plays the match through them then good things will happen. Diaby especially showed his impeccable footwork against Uruguay, and if Gourcuff is handed the reins to the midfield he can show the world his supreme talents.
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