France under pressure after stalemate with Uruguay
After a lively opening game, France and Uruguay served up a disappointing scoreless draw in Cape Town, leaving with Raymond Domenech and his troops with a lot of questions to answer.
Les Bleus played with an urgency which was sadly lacking from their warm-up games but their inability to create opportunities which has marked most of Raymond Domenech’s tenure, soon became apparent again.
Even in the second half, when Uruguay were reduced to ten men after a nasty challenge from Nicolas Lodeiro, Raymond Domenech’s side looked short of ideas. The raw materials are there, but the coach’s inability to get his players to work together, along with some baffling tactics, showed that France are a long way from being serious contenders for the title.
Their preparation for the game was marred by reports of infighting and players refusing to speak to each other and unless Domenech can bring them together and make them work as a team, a repeat of their first round exit in 2002 seems far more likely than their successful campaign four years earlier.
Franck Ribery, the man the French hope will allow them to forget about Zinedine Zidane, provided a pin point cross for Sidney Govou after just five minutes, but the Lyon man failed to get a strong enough touch on the ball, and his shot drifted wide.
That was as good as it got for France.
The French were able to dominate possession in the first half, but it was Diego ForlÃƒÂ¡n who forced the first real save of the match. After cutting inside from the right, the Atletico Madrid striker tried to curl the ball round Hugo Lloris, but the shot failed to really test the Lyon keeper.
Soon after it was Fernando Muslera, the Uruguayan keeper, who was called into action to stop a well placed Yoann Gourcuff free kick.
The young Bordeaux player was a rising star in French football last season, but a poor end to the campaign, combined with his club’s spectacular slump of form, have led to calls for him to be dropped from the team.
In this opening game he did little to support his cause, regularly losing possession and struggling to have an impact. In his defence, he was not the only player who disappointed, with Ribery ineffective after his initial burst, and Nicolas Anelka cutting a lonely figure leading the line.
In fact it was only Abou Diaby who provided any thrust for Les Bleus. The young Arsenal midfielder, a surprise inclusion over Florent Malouda, provided physicality and drive for his team, but was unable to inspire the rest of his team.
On Thursday they will have the opportunity to make amends against Mexico, whilst Uruguay face the task of upsetting the host nation South Africa.