World Cup 2010: Can the French Spring a Surprise?

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World Cup 2010: Can the French Spring a Surprise?
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Any French football fan who reads this will think I'm crazy, the national team under current Coach Raymond Domenech is in terrible form.

But with the quality that the French possess, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them in the latter stages of the World Cup.

Lucky to even qualify for the World Cup, the now infamous Thierry Henry hand-ball against the Republic of Ireland, securing a aggregate win in the playoffs.

But now that they have qualified for South Africa you sense that they may be able to put together a decent run.

Let's take a look at the positives of the current squad first:


Franck Ribery

The Bayern Munich attacker is a superb player. If he can stay injury-free in the build-up, he will prove to be a massive hit at the tournament. He has the superstar quality that allows him to carry the team, when the rest are struggling.

 

Yoann Gourcuff  

A playmaker in the truest sense, Gourcuff has creativity in abundance, and if allowed to roam the attacking, third will unlock the tightest of defence. The Bordeaux midfielder will be at the top of many big clubs wish lists if he has a good tournament.


Defensive Midfielders  

There are a current crop of holding midfielders that the French can rely on. They have three world-class players in this position, with Lassana Diarra, Jeremy Toulalan, and Patrick Vieira all vying for a starting berth.

So they have two world class attacking midfielders, and a solid base in the middle of the park. They also have the likes of Henry and Nicholas Anelka in attack, and the highly rated Hugo Loris in goals.

Taking into account all of the above you would think, what is problem with the French? They have all the tools necessary to mount a World Cup charge.

 

But there are also negatives and these are resounding negatives:

Raymond Domenech  

The very unpopular Coach who seems to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. He is a firm believer in astrology and he has made some decisions based on these beliefs. He is disliked by fans and questioned by players. The pressure is building on Domenech.

 

The back four  

The left back is sorted; they have Patrice Evra or Eric Abidal. The right-back will more than likely be Bacary Sagna, who is better going forward than defending. That leaves the centre-backs, William Gallas is a certainty if fit, but who knows what Gallas shows up.

Then either the suspect Jean Alain Boumsong, who really isn't international material. Or Abidal who is primary a left-back and has his problems in the centre. The best centre-half they have Phillip Mexes, for some reason doesn't get the nod.

Adil Rami and Julien Escude aren't really proven at this level.


Form and Fitness

A plethora of attacking players are struggling with either of these problems. Andre-Pierre Gignac has struggled to find the form of last season, although still scoring just not as regular. Karim Benzema has struggled for both goals and minutes on the pitch in his first season with Real Madrid.

Louis Saha had forced his way back into the squad and then promptly got injured.

Bafetimi Gomes earned a big money move to Lyon and has seen plenty of time on the bench.

So they may have a few weaknesses, but you take a look at every team who is going to South Africa, all with the exception of Spain, look like they have a weakness somewhere in their team.

They may not have the best coach in the world, or have a known defensive pairing, but there is one thing they have time to change: the form and fitness of a number of attackers.

Henry has started seeing playing time for Barcelona and looks good.

Gignac is a natural goal-scorer and if he gets on a run, will make a difference in attack.

All in all the positives significantly override the negatives.

Ribery and Gourcuff could prove the match-winners for this team.

Henry and Anelka will be fired up as this will probably be their last World Cup.

All you have to do is just pray Domenech doesn't read his horoscope on a match day! 

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