FIFA 2010 World Cup: Sticking Up for Raymond Domenech

GuidoAnalyst IJune 12, 2010

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 11: Raymond Domenech head coach of France gestures during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group A match between Uruguay and France at Green Point Stadium on June 11, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Poor Raymond Domenech has not had it easy recently. He has come under fire from both the national and international media for some quite simply mind-boggling decisions. 

I mean, omitting players like Benzema, Trezeguet, and Nasri, partially based on what their star sign is? Decisions like that, motivated in such a way, are never going to make much sense or help your popularity with the people much.

It's not like he was very popular to begin with. When France were eliminated from the 2008 European Championships, Domenech's response was to publicly ask his girlfriend to marry him. 

Basically, I don't think I need to explain that Domenech is a bit of an eccentric personality...and that's being kind to the man.

After watching France's 0-0 draw to Uruguay last night, me and my mates at the pub had a good laugh at his expense, mostly based on events prior to the actual match.

When I staggered home from a good night out, I recapped the match for myself and I had to conclude Domenech was actually spot-on with his tactics this time.

Basically, France found the perfect answer to Uruguay's 3-5-2/5-3-2 hybrid formation, by sticking to their 4-3-3 formation, which Domenech has been experimenting with in the pre-World Cup friendlies.

Had the Frenchman reverted to a 4-4-2 formation, he could have been in trouble, as Uruguay's three-man strong central defence could have picked up on the two French strikers, which would have allowed the wing-backs to bomb forward to create a numerical advantage in midfield, literally outflanking the French.

By sticking to a 4-3-3 with wide forwards, he forced the Uruguayan wing-backs to stay back as well, preventing them from linking up with the midfielders.

Ribéry and Govou looked quite dangerous at times, so both Uruguayan wing-backs had to stay back to contain this French threat.

As the wingbacks were left stranded, the Uruguay forwards Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan were forced to wide into wider positions to receive the ball, which basically isolated both of them, especially since Uruguay's attacking midfielder Ignacio Gonzalez was always picked up by Jeremie Toulalan.

This prevented Gonzalez from playing in a support role.

France's strangle-hold of the game was strengthened in the second half, when Domenech appeared to have ordered his wing-backs Evra and Sagna in a more attacking role, further strengthening the French midfield.

From the match stats alone, it was apparent that Domenech's tactics were not to blame this time, France had the majority of the position and managed to fire off 18 shots to Uruguay's 6.

So why did the French fail to win? They were mostly unlucky. A collective off-day for their attacking players was seriously hampering them.

Ribéry's crossing was abysmal, Gourcuff lost the ball too much, and Anelka was anonymous, either not receiving the ball or trying to single-handedly beat all three of Uruguay's central defenders.

Domenech did try to fix things during the match. He stuck to his formation, which was obviously working, and he brought on Henry and Malouda to replace Anelka and Gourcuff.

But ultimately, they lacked that little bit of luck to create an opening and finish it.

As much as I like ridiculing Domenech and laughing at some of his stupid decisions, the things he did last night actually made sense and I do feel I should applaud him for that.

He's been getting a lot of stick lately, so I feel I should praise him for the things he did do right.