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Posted: Thursday June 17, 2010 7:51AM ; Updated: Thursday June 17, 2010 2:29PM
Georgina Turner
Georgina Turner>INSIDE THE WORLD CUP

France vs. Mexico instant analysis

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  • 0

    France

  • 2

    Mexico

  • 1'

    Kickoff

    Kick-off: Anelka and Ribery kick us off, France in all blue, Mexico in green and white. For your mental picture.

    Feisty start - possession's changed hands (feet?) about seven times already.


  • 2'

    Oh! Dos Santos has just hit the post with a left-footed shot! He was a good few yards offside when he received the ball, so it doesn't really matter, but Mexico found it pretty easy to move the ball through France.


  • 4'

    "What do you think about the France lineup?" asks Robert. "Do you think Govou or Anelka did anything to get the nod over the likes of Henry or Gourcuff? Even Gignac?" Gourcuff didn't live up to the billing so I understand the move in midfield, but Govou was poor on Friday. He's a lucky man. As for Anelka, he's just sent a free-kick in a good position up, up and away.


  • 6'

    Ribery tries from a similar distance, keeping it low and arrowing, but Perez holds it comfortably. There are plenty of reasons to try stuff like that, given some of the keeping we've seen so far, but attempts to success ratio must be about 400:2.


  • 9'

    Another 'Oh!' moment: three Mexicans spring the offside trap and Vela hooks a volley with his left foot. It looked for all the world like Mexico was going to bag an early goal but he doesn't wait long enough for the ball to drop and it spins way up into the stands. The French look extremely susceptible to pace.


  • 11'

    Both teams have created reasonable chances in the last couple of minutes, Malouda shimmying into the area but pulling it back to nobody, while Mexico put another effort over the bar.


  • 12'

    "I have no idea who to pull for in this one," says Tyler Skorczewski. "I'm from the US and so hate Mexico on principle and hate France because, come on, they're France. I don't want the karma gods to wreck the US chances tomorrow by pulling for the wrong team today, so I think I'm going to hope for a 16 card four guys sent off match a la 2006 Dutch game. Who is the referee today? Is this a possibility?" The ref (frantically searches for name, gives up as laptop combusts) seems pretty whistle happy so far. France has another free-kick.


  • 13'

    Well that was nearly a very nice French goal - rolled free-kick, ball put out wide to Ribery, who lumps it across the area too powerfully for anyone to get onto the end of it.


  • 15'

    I realise that uttering the phrase "end to end stuff" generally implies a lack of quality, but that's really not the case. This is as entertaining a match as France 0-0 Uruguay was soul-destroying.


  • 17'

     "No prediction for this match except that Crazy Ray will make at least a couple of head scratching decisions," says Jason Parker. "Oh what the heck: Mexico 3- France 2. As far as whom I'm rooting for, let's just say my fridge is full of Corona." 


  • 20'

    Salcido joins the attack and tries one with his left foot, but it's pulled a couple of yards wide. I genuinely can't predict who's going to score first. Mexico has created more from open play, but the French have had enough decisions go their way that a set-piece goal is on the cards. Especially if they do better with them than dos Santos with that Mexico free-kick. Straight into the wall.


  • 22'

    “I honestly think Mexico has a great chance to upset France,” says TJ Cutshaw. “France looked slow in their last game. I think Mexico will pressure France with their speed and if they win the possession battle they will beat France.” Mexico has had 54% of the ball so far.


  • 25'

    Toulalan just got away from Salcido and put a fantastic ball into the box from wide on the right, but Anelka couldn't quite get his head on it. France is upping its possession stats.


  • 27'

    Craziness from Gallas! Salcido squeezed past Sagna but overhit his ball - but instead of closing it down (a hoof would have done), Gallas watches the full back into the area and lets him shoot. Lloris got behind it, but that was a risky strategy by Gallas.


  • 29'

    "Judging by your comments I think I'm the only person who doesn't mind who wins," says John Richardson. "I like both sides." This is just the game for you, then. Possession still see-sawing between the two and a handful of shots each.


  • 30'

    Now this could change things: Vela is hobbling off with a hamstring injury. Someone will have to warm up, sharpish.


  • 31'

    Substitutions

    Out: Vela , In: Barrera

    Pablo Barrera is on, and his first task is to watch Malouda's corner drift way beyond the penalty area and out for a Mexico throw-in.


  • 32'

    Barrera's second act is to give Lloris the fright of his life, stealing in and forcing the kind of save that can send the ball flying anywhere but it bounced wide.


  • 34'

    "I am hoping Mexico not only defeat France, but also shut them out," Rick Morris tells me, rubbing his hands and suppressing a cackle. "It would be great to see them two games in with no goals!" If the final ball doesn't improve, it could happen.


  • 37'

    Another free-kick chance for France...

    …another member of the wall takes a ball to the head.


  • 39'

     "The French lack the ability to know what their team mates will do," says Tim Delaney, waving an imaginary pointer at an imaginary whiteboard. "They have opportunities but the man with the ball doesn't know what the guys ahead are going to do." That's a fair assessment of their play so far. You know, maybe someone should do that live online for people to follow during the game...


  • 41'

    Spell of French pressure (possession now swinging marginally in their favour), but again the final ball is meh.


  • 43'

    Looks like we're going to reach half-time without a goal.


  • 45'

    “I thought France would be clear favorites,” Steven Myles tells me. I cannot imagine what in their first game gave you that idea. Ribery's earned them another free-kick 30 yards out, and they have about 30 seconds to take it.


  • 46'

    Halftime

    Free-kick once again lammies into the wall, but this time Mexico break. Toulalan takes Franco out and will miss the next game with that booking. Half-time.


  • 47'

    Things to ponder at half-time:

    What other options does Domenech have? Ribery behind Anelka isn’t working because Ribery is being easily muted by Marquez and his central defenders. Are we going to see Henry?

    What more can Mexico do? They’re already playing the better football but haven’t yet forced more than two real saves from Lloris.

    If vuvuzelas are being shipped abroad in the numbers being reported in the press, will domestic soccer worldwide be RUINED FOREVER?

    Here’s Mike in Pasadena, making my job a damn sight easier: “Georgina, I was looking at some numbers for the past three major tournaments that France has played without Zidane: World Cup 2002, Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 (Zidane only played in 1 match in 2002 and was maybe 70% fit at best). As I write this email during halftime of the France-Mexico game, the French have played close to 700 minutes combined in these three tourneys. They have scored one goal over this period (in a 4-1 drubbing by the Dutch in Euro 2000. All this while fielding a line-up that has included the likes of Henry, Ribery, Anelka, Malouda, Govou, Gourcuff, etc. Appalling.”


  • 48'

    Substitutions

    Out: Anelka , In: Gignac

    Yellow Card - Juarez

    Gignac has come on in place of Anelka, and Mexico kick us off for another 45 minutes of fun.

    Bit of a barney here, Juarez is booked for pushing Malouda over. “Hoping for bumbling Ribery goal, Mexico dominant, but frustrated to 1-1. Then France can fall by 5 to South Africa, Mexico wins, my bracket stands.” Brandon Bandhauer’s got it all figured out.


  • 49'

    Yellow Card - Moreno

    Comedy moment - Moreno brings Malouda down then runs away in the hope that the referee might just give up and put his card away. Another booking in quick succession for Mexico.


  • 50'

    "Gignac instead of Henry or Cisse?" chokes Jason Parker. "Oh crazy Ray." You didn't really expect him to make the right decision, did you? In the meantime, Mexico work a nice free-kick but France have nine or 10 players back to clear it.


  • 53'

    Positive start from Mexico, who must've gone in at half-time wondering how they hadn't put France out of sight. It's the French who create the first meaningful chance of the half though, Malouda forcing Perez to stretch. It would be typical if they were to steal a goal.


  • 54'

    Substitutions

    Out: Juarez , In: Hernandez

    Hernandez comes on in place of Juarez, which might help Mexico find a gap in the French defense.


  • 56'

    “U.S. scientists are already training bees to be attracted to vuvuzelas as if they were flowers,” says Ernie R. That would be a rather magnificent sight: 50,000 bees bearing down on a stadium and the feckless victims blissfully unaware as their brainless droning masks the sound of imminent doom.


  • 57'

    Torrado wins Worst Free Kick of the Tournament So Far.


  • 58'

    dos Santos makes a late submission for the award. The judges will re-convene.


  • 60'

    Right, I make that an hour played, and this is where I think France is winning the game:

     

    Um... Oh hang o- no.


  • 61'

    Substitutions

    Out: Franco , In: Blanco

    Franco is taken off and replaced by Blanco. Blanco looks like a pub player, but he made a difference against South Africa.


  • 63'

    Goal

    Goal - Hernandez

    GOAL! Hernandez has scored!

    Lovely flighted ball over the top of the French defense, which attempts to step up but Abidal is playing Hernandez onside, and he rounds Lloris and slots it home.


  • 65'

    Well that's put the wind up France. This is far from over, but it was important for Mexico to get the first goal. The game would have died a long and lingering death if France had a lead to defend.


  • 69'

    "Can one be "feckful"?" asks Mike, being feckful, if feckful means slightly facetious. I haven't decided yet. "Would that describe the Swiss defense yesterday?" Yes, *that's* feckful. When you find it in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Grichting, scowling. Govou makes way for Valbuena, meanwhile.


  • 71'

    "Where's Henry?" asks one of my Twitter friends. Sat on the bench, under a blanket, like one of those old ladies that sits on the pier in March.


  • 73'

    "Do you think he was sitting there on the bench thinking, 'I cheated publicly to get us here and these pathetic brats cannot even try?'" wonders Tammy Filmore. I think he's doing a sudoku under that blanket.


  • 74'

    Anyway, on the pitch, France have become increasingly scrappy, and Gignac's just been played in by Malouda, only to shin his shot miles over the goal. The Mexicans have had a couple of chances to undo the French defense, but each time Hernandez has strayed offside.


  • 76'

    “If France is involved in another 0-0 result... they should be banned from all future World Cups,” said Dominic R, in Maryland, earlier. I don't think this scoreline prohibits that. Maybe they could start a mini tournament with Greece.


  • 77'

    Yellow Card - Abidal

    PENALTY TO MEXICO!

    Barrera runs down the right and Evra makes a half-hearted trot towards him before deciding to let him do what he wants. Abidal slides in in the area and Barrera lets his knees buckle under the challenge.


  • 78'

    Goal

    Goal - Blanco

    2-0 MEXICO! Blanco had a long enough run up to qualify for the Olympic 100m, and hammered the ball beyond Lloris. It'll take quite some comeback from here, and France look like heading home.


  • 80'

    In 1998, France won the World Cup. In 2002, they went home after the first round. In 2006, they were beaten in the final. In 2010... I see a pattern emerging.


  • 82'

    Yellow Card - Rodriguez

    Rodriguez is booked as France try and push forward... Ribery puts his free-kick straight into the wall. Again. Has anybody told him this isn't a half-time Budweiser competition?


  • 84'

    Mexico are 2-0 up with six minutes left, France are 2-0 down with six minutes left. Guess who's playing with more urgency? Go on, guess.


  • 86'

    “Perhaps this is Karma kicking France in the groin for their qualification at the expense of Ireland?" wonders Joel. "Sweet, sweet justice!”


  • 87'

    "Warms the heart to see France get a hiding from 11 fine men in beautiful green shirts" mwoohahas Twitterer ginjaninja. I get the feeling that you could leave France on their own in a stadium and they'd still end up conceding.


  • 89'

    I can't believe I let my sense of "It would just be flipping typical" override my pre-tournament belief that Mexico and Uruguay would top this group.


  • 90'

    They're eeking this out for another three minutes. Domenech can't make anymore substitutions because his subs are lingering behind the goal, b----ing about him.


  • 91'

    "I'm usually not the typical American who says I told so," says BMunny, doing a good impression of an American who says I told you so. "I'm a gentleman so could you do it on my behalf. Merci"


  • 92'

    The BBC commentator has just announced that "Gignac's done very little", as if that distinguishes him from anybody else in a blue kit.


  • 93'

    Fulltime

    Th-th-th-that's all folks. Mexico wins 2-0 and France are clinging onto life at this tournament.

    There are French fans in the stadium standing defiantly with their middle fingers raised towards the pitch, and who can blame them? France gave nothing today, despite showing reasonable intent in the first quarter of the game. Even then, the final ball was missing. Domenech either doesn't know who his best players are, and how to use them, or he's doing what most of us do when we're leaving a job we hate: leave as much of a mess behind as possible. This is the footballing equivalent of defecating in the stationery cupboard. Mexico didn't need to be terrific to win this game, but they didn't let that stop them. There's the prospect of Mexico playing out a tactical draw with Uruguay now (that result would send France home), but they've almost earned the right.


Editor's note: Refresh for updates.

Anthems analysis (Back by popular demand - clearly we all need to get out more):

The French national anthem gets a brief boo to begin with, I think. Domenech looks cross, but then he always does. Someone on the French team 'hey!'s at the end, though fails to get the heel click off the ground, and Evra lets a single tear slip out. I love the Mexican anthem, and might learn the words in an idle moment.

In my pre-match opinion poll, the French seem to be about as popular as... um... the French. "Even if I was not a Mexico fan, I would be for this game," says David Smith. "I almost want France to stay in the tournament because no other team is so easy to detest."

Oh my, what a day we've had after such a tentative start to the tournament. Things have happened! The telly has been worth watching! And I'm hopeful that France and Mexico will continue the trend -- Mexico because they started positively against South Africa anyway, and France because, well, they've got to, haven't they?

Domenech has made the changes we expected, while Javier Aguirre has tinkered with his defense, Paul Aguilar losing out to Hector Moreno. I'm surprised by that, because I thought Aguilar was excellent against South Africa, giving Lucas Thwala no end of trouble.

"I think you've left off the most hotly-anticipated change to Raymond Domenech's side," chuckles Bryan Bowen. "And the one that will give the French the best chance: removing Raymond Domenech!"

France (4-2-3-1): Hugo Lloris, Bacary Sagna, William Gallas, Eric Abidal, Patrice Evra, Jeremy Toulalan, Abou Diaby, Sidney Govou, Franck Ribery, Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka.

Mexico (4-3-3): Oscar Perez, Ricardo Osorio, Hector Moreno, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Salcido, Efrain Juarez, Rafael Marquez, Gerardo Torrado, Giovani dos Santos, Guillermo Franco, Carlos Vela.

Pregame

Uruguay shook off that turgid 0-0 draw with France to turn on the style against South Africa yesterday, moving to the top of Group A and putting pressure on both teams here to produce a performance and keep up with the pace. France was, frankly, dreadful last week, but the anticipated changes to Raymond Domenech's side (Franck Ribery into the middle, Florent Malouda on the left) promise at least some improvement.

The Mexicans didn't need to do a lot to improve, for my English pound, and looked exciting enough to pull this off. But of course, my usual journalistic impartiality shall not be shaken. I've got certificates and everything, you know.

The game kicks off at 2.30 p.m. ET so I'll be online from about 2.15 p.m. to bring you team news, live instant analysis and email banter. Keep your side of the bargain by emailing georgina.turner.si@gmail.com.

 
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