France, FIFA World Cup finalists in 2006, are on the verge of crashing out of the 2010 event after losing 2-0 to Mexico in Polokwane's Peter Mokaba Stadium. Substitutes Javier Hernandez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco grabbed the goals as El Tri moved to within touching distance of the last 16 with a deserved win over Raymond Domenech’s lacklustre side.
Just nine minutes after coming off the bench the 22-year-old Hernandez, who will officially move to Old Trafford from Chivas in a £7 million deal next month, sprang the offside trap to race on to Rafael Marquez's pass, round goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and coolly slot home. Veteran striker and cult hero Cuauhtemoc Blanco sealed victory with a 79th-minute penalty. It was Mexico's first win over France at senior level and no less than they deserved after a performance full of vigour and attacking invention.
Insipid and lacking ambition once again, the team look completely out of sorts and are not helped by some bizarre decisions from their coach. Playing Franck Ribery behind a lone striker, there was nothing in the final third to suggest that they were ever going to break the deadlock and Mexico were comfortable throughout. Keeping Sidney Govou in the side did not work and talisman Thierry Henry, again, warmed the bench.
Fluid on the ball and lively up front, their positive attitude embarrassed a French side that many expected to come out on top of the group. El Tri have some tough defenders to win the ball back and attack with gusto when they have possession. Quick, exciting and full of running, they deserve a place in the second round based on their first two performances.
Could do better:
William Gallas - While his defensive partner Eric Abidal gave away a stonewall penalty in the second half, Gallas contributed to the first goal with a poor attempt at playing offside. However, his crowning moment in the match was when he decided to let Salcido shoot instead of closing him down in the box and he was lucky it was hit straight at Hugo Lloris.
Since Zindine Zidane's retirement after the World Cup final in 2006, France are without a win in their five matches at international tournaments and they have not scored a World Cup goal outside Europe since Michel Platini's strike against Brazil in the 1986 quarter-finals.
The odds are heavily stacked against les Bleus still being in the competition in a week’s time. With Mexico and Uruguay both on four points and France and South Africa on one, a draw between the group leaders in their final game would ensure they go through and see France fall at the first hurdle.
France can still advance if they beat South Africa at least 3-0 while Uruguay has to beat Mexico 2-0. Qualifying to the R16 is one thing, another thing is, would France go out of the world Cup without scoring a goal? Again, just like they did in 2002?
Friday, June 18, 2010
Posted at 10:38 AM