Uninspired France on the brink as Argentina cruise

By Michael Owen
diego maradona

Maradona's side eased past South Korea but displayed uneasiness at the back

Whilst Lionel Messi will have spent last night celebrating Argentina’s 4-1 win over South Korea, his Barcelona team-mate Eric Abidal will be wondering where it all went wrong for France.

Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuaín added a hat-trick to Park Chu-Yong’s own-goal in a fantastic attacking performance from the South American side.

France’s display in Polokwane against Mexico later in the evening could not have been any more contrasting to the fantastic show put on by Diego Maradona’s team.

An unimaginative, uninspired and error-prone French side conceded two goals from Javier Hernández and Cuauhtemoc Blanco without reply.

The results leave the two nations in very different situations in their respective groups, with Argentina topping Group B with six points whilst France are third in group A, level on points with bottom-placed host nation South Africa.

In order to qualify for the last 16, France are now relying on either Uruguay or Mexico to lose when the two teams face each other in Rustenburg on 22 May.

But even if one of the two front-runners do slip up and afford France the opportunity to take a place in the top two it is no forgone conclusion that they will be able to capitalise.

Raymond Domenech’s side face a tough test in the form of South Africa, who themselves could earn an unlikely place in the last 16 should they beat France in Bloemfontein.

The Vuvuzela’s of the Bafana Bafana fans will certainly not be playing to France’s tune and if the 2006 finalists want to stand any chance of making it through to the next round they will need to start acting as a team, showing the world they are a unified force—something difficult to envisage considering the ever-increasing friction within the French camp.

Argentina, of course, are not without their problems. Although they put on a fantastic attacking display, their performance at the back will cause tactical headaches for Maradona after a blunder by Dimichelis allowed Lee Chung-Yong to grab a goal for Korea on the brink of half-time.

Their defensive uncertainty has not yet cost Argentina, but Nigeria and South Korea have not posed the attacking threat the likes of Brazil, Germany and Spain may do in the latter stages of the tournament.

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