Three quick thoughts: France-Uruguay
Three quick thoughts after France's dour 0-0 draw with Uruguay in Group A:
1. France's Franck Ribery needs to take one for the team. Granted, France coach Raymond Domenech is highly erratic in his decision-making, but he's not totally at fault for the exclusion of in-form winger Florent Malouda from the starting lineup against Uruguay. Ribery's reluctance (and that would be an understatement) to play on the right and his insistence that he be utilized on the left as an inside-out winger means there's no place for Malouda. As a natural right-footer Ribery could also play comfortably on the right, but of course that would require him to be more of a provider and reduce the opportunities for him to cut inside from the left to shoot on his right foot. If he's going to insist that the team accommodate him in such fashion, then he needs to deliver in a far more effective fashion than he did against Uruguay.
2. Uruguay's sole objective was to avoid defeat. Uruguay defended admirably, even after going down to 10 men following substitute Nicolas Lodeiro's foolish sending off. However, it was clear the South Americans were intent on packing as many men as possible behind the ball defensively from the onset, with only a cursory hope of snatching a solitary goal from one of its two dangerous front men. The only to that plan was that the midfield lacked the ability to get the ball to Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, who were both largely deprived of service. Uruguay wonderkid Lodeiro was supposed to be the spark who could provide that link, but not only did he not start, he managed to get himself recklessly red-carded, which means he'll miss the next game.
3. France's blunt edge on attack. On paper, the French lineup is full of big names and attacking prowess. In reality, the team seems to lack creativity, ideas and fluidity of passing. It's also exacerbated by forward Nicolas Anelka's poor run of form for France -- he's now gone 384 consecutive minutes since his last shot on target in international soccer. In mitigation for Anelka, he wasn't exactly helped by the fact that supposed playmaker Youann Gourcuff contributed little (one clever free-kick attempt aside). In fact, Gourcuff seemed more intent on shooting wildly on sight, than actually trying to feed his striker and wingers the ball. If the French public hadn't already bemoaned the exclusion of the likes of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema and Arsenal's Samir Nasri by Domench, this game will only serve to hammer home the foolishness of that decision.
Ducks fend off Blackhawks for shootout victory
Hurricanes stage surprising rally against Sharks