Thursday, June 17, 2010

France v Mexico - must win for both nations

Both France and Mexico head into this match knowing that Uruguay have one foot into the next round after a resounding 3-0 victory over the hosts, while South Africa look to be the first host nation not to make the knock out stage. So heading into the game the standings look as follows -

Group A
South AfricaSouth Africa2011141

With Uruguay at top with 4 points and just as importantly - a positive 3 goals for both El Tri and Les Bleus realize that they need to win otherwise the last day will be made that much more complicated. Granted a draw will keep everything in play for both nations going into their last match. There is a small advantage for France, why? They face South Africa, while it is never easy facing the host nation, with only a point from 2 games baring a minor miracle the hosts will just be playing for pride. While Uruguay and Mexico will both be chasing a win, regardless of what happens today. Here are the scenarios:

  • Mexico v France end in a draw - Uruguay are top of group for last game with 4 pts, France and Mexico at 2 points. The Uru v Mex game will be huge since they can both expect Fra to defeat RSA and therefore have 5 points. Uruguay could go for the draw and hope that France do not have more than a 3 goal victory so Uruguay could hope to finish top of group. Mexico would need to push for the victory to top Uruguay and go through.
  • France victory - Uru and Fra top with 4 points, Mex at 1pt. Mexico versus Uruguay match would be paramount for El Tri, since a Mexican victory by a large enough margin would get them over Uruguay, France would only need a draw to be guaranteed a spot but would look for a victory to avoid a possible match up against Argentina.
  • Mexico victory - Similar scenario as above except swap France and Mexico. Mex - Uru would both only need a draw to go through, the only question is who has a better goal difference. Again ending top of the group would avoid facing Argentina in the next stage so most likely Mexico would be looking for a win (as bad as France are, I doubt Mexico will win 3-0). France would hope that the game does not end in a draw and that they can get a large enough victory to sneak in on goal difference.
Bottom line, regardless of what happens today, the last game day will be very important for all 4 nations. Should be interesting.

Of course the pressure is more on Les Bleus, no surprise there. This game will either give Les Bleus a spring to their step or will put so much pressure on France that they might wilt in the final game versus the hosts. Add to this scenario the internal strife that is rumored to be ravaging the French camp, who knows what to expect today. Based on the latest reports we might expect the following formation -

Sagna - Abidal - Gallas - Evra
Diaby - Toulalan
Malouda - Ribery - Govou

Anelka might slot in place of Govou allowing Henry to play the point, regardless it appears the biggest victim of the latest putsch is Gourcuff. With Ribery potentially slotting it he middle of the park it will be interesting to see if the Bayern man can play the #10 role. He claimed earlier in the club season to be open to such a move, not sure testing this out in game #2 of the World Cup is the most intelligent move...then again we are talking about Domenech. Of course I am not sure why you would roll out Govou once again who has been completely ineffective on the right wing especially when you have options - Valbeuna or at worse Anelka.

France will be most likely facing a 3-4-3 which might open up some space at the back for the French attack. We shall see.

I have my optimist hat on so I think Les Bleus will emerge victorious 2-0. goals from Ribery and Malouda.

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