Recaps and game analysis to follow one or two hours after each match.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Game 2: Uruguay vs France

If you are a French fan, you will be frustrated by this game. If you are a Uruguay fan, you will be ecstatic.

This entry will be slightly different from the first, as the game was very unimpressive for most of it.

Uruguay played pretty solid for most of the game. The defenders were spot on, really shutting down the French attack. In the beginning there were a few moments of shakiness, but it picked up towards the end, especially as they were able to 'weather the storm' in the last five minutes of the game, when France was desperately trying to get the winning goal. The midfield I think was their weakest link, they didn't play badly, they just didn't stand out. The two holding midfielders were spot on, but the lone offensive mid seemed to be having a horrid time feeding the ball to the strike partnership of Suarez and Forlan. However, the outside wingers did do a good job, especially when it came to shutting down Franck Ribery, who seemed to never really show up after the first twenty minutes, he was just completely shut down.

Forlan had a few chances on goal, but sadly he was usually off target. Most fans should excuse him for this though, as he worked very hard for most of the game. My one criticism, and this is probably a coaching decision, was having him take all the free kicks. The ones right outside the box I can understand, as Forlan is a terrific goal-scorer, but he would even take the kicks that were near the half line. Overall, Uruguay were very deserving of this result. My biggest criticism is with Lodeira, who made a horrible challenge on Sagna. I completely agree with the officials assessment by producing the red card.

For France, where to begin. I didn't expect France to go to far in this tournament, but I at least expected them to be better than what they were today.

From the moment the lineup was revealed I was questioning Raymond Domenech's decisions. I just don't feel the single striker set-up favors France, but I wasn't going to question that too much. My real problem was not starting Malouda. Apparently, Malouda had gotten into a spat with the coach, and that was the reason for his inclusion on the bench. For a club season, I would agree with the coach, but not for the World Cup! Not for some small spat on the training ground.

Moving on...

The Les Bleau midfield did not show up at all today. Govou and Toulalan were largely ineffective, and Ribery seemed to disappear after his yellow card early in the second half. By the sixtieth minute I was practically pleading at my television set for the coach to bring on Henry and Malouda, which he did, but in a completely wrong way.

He took Anelka off for Henry... Wait, what? Surely Govou or Toulalan would have been the better choice, afterall, the aim of bringing on another striker in the final minutes is to score goals. A very bad choice, that was only worsened when Domenech brought on Malouda for Gourcuff. Now, Gourcuff was not playing amazing soccer, but he was still holding his side of the pitch. So Malouda comes on, and takes over the left wing, moving Ribery into the middle, a position that Ribery is not suited to. By this point, I knew the game would end nil-nil (zero to zero for you American readers).

Poor showing for France, but excellent job by Uruguay. My predictions for Group A will now be widely off.

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