In a much anticipated match tonight, France and Mexico will battle it out to decide their fate in Group A of the South African World Cup. The vuvuzela would do little to alleviate the cumulative tension. Both teams have all to fight for. Further loss of points could prove fatal to their dreams of winning prestige on the world football scene.
France only managed a draw against current group leaders Uruguay in their opening match, costing them two points. That puts a big emphasis on tonight’s clash with Mexico who are their main contenders for second place in the group since host South Africa suffered a devastating loss to Uruguay last night.
France looked unimaginative, lacked creativity and finishing touch in their opening match. This may be due to the bizarre whims of coach Raymond Domenech.
His refusal to see players that could prove vital for France’s quest for glory could turn out to be very damaging to the team. Midfielder Samir Nasri pops up among all the names. Striker David Trezeguet could have also been another good option, despite his age. But Domenech decided to overlook them and with yet another negative result, his tenure at the French national side could be cut short.
On top of that, his pride left out star midfielder Florent Malouda for the opening match against Uruguay. Reports claim that Malouda was unhappy with the position Domenech had chosen to play him on before the first match. After Malouda voiced his concerns, Domenech decided to leave him on the bench.
Did this decision cost the team two points? We don’t know.
But if France is to achieve at least partial success in this year’s version of the World Cup, the friction between players and manager must be dispersed— friction that is dragging the team back to the image of the 2002 World Cup.
However, France is still not out of it. With the presumption that Malouda will be back to help the team, France should overcome their biggest challenge in this group.
Defensive midfielder Gerardo Torrado for Mexico will have the difficult task of containing the talented midfielder Yoann Gourcuff for France. The outcome of this battle could prove crucial to the final result.
Another difficulty Mexico might face is the incessant onrush of speedy fullback Patrick Evra. Evra can provide another dimension for France’s attacks. The weight of containing him will rest on midfielder Efrain Juarez’s shoulders.
France, in turn, will have to deal with the motivated midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos and striker Carlos Vela.
France: Lloris, Sagna, Gallas, Abidal, Evra, Toulalan, Diaby, Ribery, Gourcuff, Malouda, Anelka
Mexico: Perez, Osorio, Rodriguez, Marquez, Salcido, Juarez, Torrado, Guardado, Vela, Hernandez, Giovani
Mexico has all they need to overcome an unimaginative France. Their defensive frailty could prove a fatal weakness if the talented French forwards display flashes of inspiration.
In turn, France’s usually stable back-line could mean the result will depend on the mood that strikes their more attack-minded players.
My prediction is another 0-0 draw.
What are your predictions?