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Posted by Rabeeta Farooque on 06/17/2010

Lately, all that seems to be in the news is Yoann Gourcuff’s social tribulations. His teammates don’t like him, won’t pass to him, refuse to eat with him, and won’t partner with him during Playstation hour. The reason? It’s supposedly because he looks like an underwear model, he’s the darling of the media, the fans want to sleep with him (without getting paid for it), he comes from a wealthy background, and he’s too nice of a guy to stand up for himself. All this is enough to make me think that the French National Team is putting on a production of Mean Girls.

But even if acting is an unavoidable part of football, it won’t be enough to see off a Mexican side that is hungry to prove that they aren’t lightweights. Mexico drew against South Africa in their first group stage match, both sides coming away with a single goal and a single point. And while that game can’t be compared to France’s match with Uruguay, the fact remains that they managed to score a goal while France didn’t. With Uruguay winning against South Africa today, France could find themselves at the bottom of the group if they aren’t careful.

Quick, someone give him a teddy bear to cuddle.

Unfortunately for Les Bleus, things have yet to hit the upward spiral that everyone has been hoping for. Cedric Carrasso tore his left hamstring at training, an injury severe enough that he has been forced to drop out of the squad. France’s request to call up a replacement player was denied by FIFA, which means that Domenech will have only two healthy goalkeepers available. Though if there is a bright side to this, it would be that Carrasso was the third choice goalkeeper and not the first.

Mexico is going into this match will guns blazing, and while they may not possess the big names that France take for granted, they have a host of talented players who will be eager to prove that they belong in the big boy’s club. Whether Mexico choose to play an attacking game or follow the examples of Uruguay remains to be seen, but their quick players could be potentially devastating on the counterattack.

As for France, L’Equipe reports that Domenech is fiddling with his strike force. Word is that he will start Thierry Henry tomorrow, with Franck Ribery, Florent Malouda, and Nicolas Anelka playing behind him. It’s a combination that we’ve all seen before, though its efficacy has had varying degrees of success in the past.

Yoann Gourcuff’s place in the starting lineup is up in the air, as it depends on who Domenech wants in midfield. Assuming Domenech chooses to continue with the 4-2-3-1, then going by past history, Jeremy Toulalan and Abou Diaby will be starting instead. And while Gourcuff is capable of playing right next to a defensive midfielder (in fact, he seems more comfortable in that position) and is a more than a decent ball winner, Domenech is unlikely to use him there since he’s not defensive enough.

It may be up to Henry to save France’s prospects once again.

The back four will most probably remain the same. Bacary Sagna and Patrice Evra will be the starting fullbacks while William Gallas and Eric Abidal will stay in central defense. Abidal, whose best performances have been as left back, is preferred to partner Gallas despite there being other options. And while the reason for this still remains unclear – Abidal hasn’t been that convincing as a CB – Domenech hasn’t budged on this matter for nearly three years.

Barring any last minute adjustments, the lineup France will use tomorrow will look something like this:


Sagna – Gallas – Abidal – Evra

Diaby – Toulalan

Ribery – Anelka – Malouda


This is a tried and tested lineup, so the players will not have the excuse of adjusting to new tactics. Somehow, France will have to find a way to keep Mexico’s strike force muzzled while launching attacks of their own. France have the players to do some serious damage to Mexico, but at the end of the day, it depends on how adventurous Domenech plans to be and what mood the players are in. If they play with the same attitude that they displayed against Uruguay, it’s hard to imagine France walking away with more than a single point.

Tomorrow may determine if France can progress to the next round. For all our sakes, I hope Les Bleus can summon the magic that has long been missing from the side.

Or follow me personally @LyonOffside


Posted by Jesse G. on 06/17/2010

Is it me or would the French be better off with Anelka up top and Henry as the withdrawn striker since Anelka is much better than Henry at playing with his back to net. Additionally, wouldn't the team also seem to be better off with Gourcuff as the attacking midfielder/withdrawn striker behind Henry?

Posted by Luke R on 06/17/2010

I agree with Jesse. Maybe even get rid of Henry all together...they should of taken Benzema!!
Gourcuff would be welcome at Liverpool anytime..How about it Yohann?

Posted by Rabeeta on 06/17/2010

I think the reason Domenech is considering having Anelka as a withdrawn striker is because he tends to drop back into midfield a lot. Plus statistically, he's only scored 14 goals for France (Govou has scored 10 with 20 less appearances).

About Henry - it's not that Domenech really wants him to play. But France can't seem to accomplish anything without him, so Domenech's hands are tied.

Gourcuff is being dropped because he hasn't been playing well, not even in the friendlies. He's a terrific player when he's in form, but as he is now, he's just taking up space. He may come on as a sub though.

Posted by the sky is grey on 06/17/2010

I agree with Jesse too. I also think that Gourcuff can fill in that Anelka's spot of your lineup in midfield.

I think Domenech is just clueless of Yoann's abilities. I have to agree that he has been a terrific player and creative, his style has always being compared with the 'living legend' Zizou and yes, when he's in form.

I don't know what has beleaguered this cute guy's mind but at this stage he has to step up to the expectation. He should be the key for Franck 'The Magician' Ribery to unlock France's success here in South Africa. Domenech should be let him roam freely in the midfied, as all playmakers do.

Posted by Gilles on 06/17/2010

I mentionned it the other day, with different backgrounds and educations, there is a sort of class war going on in France, les "Banlieusards", "la cite" (all from the suburbs) V regular people, bit like chavs really.
They assume that anyone with a car and a house is "un bourge" (slang for bourgeois, "privileged")even when it is earned with work and sweat, not just inherited.. So imagine when a bloke comes from a rather wealthy family, has movie-like looks and is popular in the country, then it has to really grate them: Anelka, Ribery and the rest are just jealous and their lack of manners shows, why can't they be professionals and get on with their jobs. Damn, even if I hated someone in my team, I'd see the bigger picture, there is a potential WORLD CUP at the end of it for goodness' sake!
Anelka, Ribery, Henry and some have pain a real pain in the arse in their respective clubs lately while Gourcuff is said to be a respected gentleman, I know who I'd side with in the french camp...

Posted by Gilles on 06/17/2010

Just another point on Malouda's whining: if you're that "affected" (booeffinghoo) by reports and reactions from France, THEN DON'T READ THEM, simple! Don't log on to french blogs/sites/forums and find something else to do, like say learning tactics for instance!
As for the reactions themselves, what the hell does he expect with the dross we've been served with for the past 4 years???
I love football but by God do I dislike most football players, let alone their interviews and comments, are they thick or what?
Florent and co, better play well tonight mate, THEN you will not have to read negative comments. Rocket science is it?
There are times I feel for Domenech (never thought I'd say that!), they behave like 8 year olds.
It's kindergarten France.

Posted by sc chan on 06/17/2010

Gourcuff vs the rest(esp.Henry,Ribeiry,Malouda..)Is this racism the other way round.,or the haves vs the have not? Henry really does have a very big ego, there's no doubt in that. Actually you just don't know what to say, looking at the french team, are they really a french team? Did they bring this on themselves?
It just came to me, I'll should be counting actually how many of the french players actually sing their national anthem b4 the game against mexico.

Posted by Anonymous on 06/17/2010


Posted by Anonymous on 06/17/2010

They need denzel washington to sort em out

Posted by Achintya madhav on 06/17/2010

They need Jesus Christ to sort em out :P

Posted by Rabeeta on 06/17/2010

Ugh, what a nightmare. I'm so embarrassed for my team. No team harmony AT ALL.

Posted by Anonymous on 06/17/2010

Actually makes me angry the way they play.

Posted by Gilles on 06/17/2010

Clearly Plan B without Gourcuff worked a treat!
How many clear chances: none!
2 nil down with 12 minutes to go and nothing more to lose, what do you do? KEEP YOUR THIRD SUBSTITUTE ON THE BENCH INDEED!
Where were your shooting boots lads, where was the drive, where was the love of the shirt, what the hell was that team I watch tonight? Not a flipping goal in 180 minutes against football giants that are Uruguay and Mexico, 2002 all over again.
Benzema, Nasri and Mexes to name a few are at home having a good laugh I bet.
Do not want to see in a french shirt EVER: Anelka.
I can't believe that my team AGAIN goes from top to the bottom from one WC to another. I'm pathetic enough now to wish that at least another big football nation falls flat on its face to tell my mate, "see, we were not alone".
And those french fans (expats I guess) who at 0-2 down see themselves on tv and go "Yeaaah, I'm on tv!", that's how much you care about the team?

Laurent, viens vite stp!

Posted by Les blues on 06/17/2010

The team is just not clicking at all no chemistry what so ever ,coming into the world cup that was the talk how france will perform and guess what they haven't shown up to play it seems the team is divided they don't have any guidance. and also it seems without Thierry Henry the team is nothing of the team we are use to seeing

Posted by John Moo on 06/17/2010

I see Blanco from Mexico but I didn't see Henry,this is how the Manager made the call.
The biggest problem is, I didn't see "Midfielder" commence the attack, neither to hold the ball.
It's weird that see Malouda and Ribery attack from the same side, not from the middle and right.
At the moment I don't think anyone can replace great player like Zidane and Vieira since 2002.
Not many organized attack, what I can say.
I know that Henry may not be as great as when he is young, but at least give him a try, one!

Posted by cleber lira on 06/17/2010

Don´t worry about france team. This world cup they will be out, certanly. By the away, in 2014 you might try again.

I´m really sorry for you.


Posted by DTP on 06/17/2010

You 2 can be only be stupid to say Anelka is better with his back to goal than Henry, obviously y'all dont know anything about the man. How regular does Anelka produce anything constructive with his back to goal??? And for example of how better Henry is watch how he scored against Togo in the last World Cup and tell me if Anelka can do it as clinical.

Posted by Mordez Moi on 06/17/2010

Anelka sucked! Domenech really sucked! Where's Henry, you MORON!!!!!

Posted by Paul on 06/18/2010

I can´t belive Domenech didnt play Henry, He disqualified France from this world cup.

Posted by ALBERT on 06/18/2010

France team, they shouldn't in this world cup at all. Go back and enjoy your summer holiday. maybe henry should play basketball instead of football which he is good at.

Posted by Josh on 06/19/2010

Domenech is an awful coach and has clearly failed to teach any tactics to his team on offense--they simply have no idea what they're doing.

Beyond that, if these rumors of the players trying to exclude Gourcuff are true, les Bleus need to grow up. Now. Van Persie and Sneijder may not like each other, but RVP assisted on Sneijder's goal and the two shared a hug afterward because egotistical as they are, they put personal differences aside for the sake of the team.

And it goes without saying that if the exclusion of Gourcuff has been going on for a while, Domenech bears a lot of the blame for that as well, because it ultimately sabotages the team. If he has players who refuse to pass to another player, Domenech should sit those of the former variety. It's pathetic to let that clownish stuff go unpunished. And in the process, Domenech wasted the talents of one of France's best generations of players. Unbelievable.

Posted by Steve on 06/21/2010

It all starts with Domenech and the FFF, which allowed this incompetent fool to keep his job. There is no way on Earth that a team representing France should lose 2-0 to Mexico, and there is no way in the universe that a France team should look so bad in losing to Mexico. Not one chance on goal. Pathetic! I'm so disappointed in this team.

Now there is a mutiny. Anelka spoke for all the players. Why am I not surprised? The bosses at the FFF need to be replaced, not the players. Anyone who thought Domenech was worthy of keeping his job after Euro 08 needs to have their head examined. Stripping Henry of the captaincy right before the world cup starts? And then to not even play the man? Why even bring him to South Africa? The formation is awful, the substitutions are awful, it's like Domenech is taking money to see France exit in the group stages. Why else would a coach use such negative tactics and selections? The worst thing in the world in wasted talent.

Posted by Steve on 06/21/2010

Also, if poor attitude is infecting the squad, a good coach should be able to pull them together. Coaching is more than picking a squad and formations.(both of which Domenech is clearly awful at)

And, if poor attitude is why Nasri and Benzema were not chosen, why select Nicolas "Le Sulk" Anelka?

S M D H !!!

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