France and Mexico play each other in a group A game on Thursday in Polokwane. This is a crucial game for both teams, especially Mexico who drew a match they were expected to win, against South Africa.
France did not appear to have recovered from the qualification controversy, and they put up a mediocre show against Uruguay, in their opener.
There was no creativity except for a few glimpses from Ribery. Forwards Nicolas Anelka and Yoann Gourcuff did not do justice to their indubitable talent. Arsenal’s Abou Diaby suffered on account of the defensive formation adopted by France’s coach, Domenech Mysport99.
Malouda is likely to return, and Domenech might also replace Anelka with Henry. Alternatively, Djibril Cisse could make way for Henry.
Franck Ribery is considered as the successor to Zidane in this French squad, and can lift them above the ordinary. If Malouda can keep his normal left flank, Ribery can play a bigger part infield. There is undoubtedly a need to disturb the status quo and get some fresh thinking going, for France.
Against South Africa, the noisy crowd appears to have upset Mexico who despite ball possession and superior ball skills, did not take control, and allowed South Africa to score first. but for Rafael Marquez’s equalizer, Mexico were probably out of the tournament.
Having said that, Dos Santos played his heart out and with the in form Carlos Vela along with Franco, Mexico has potential up front to trouble any defence.
However their own defensive weakness was there to see, posing a question mark over whether or not the backs can withstand the likes of Ribery and Anelka on the prowl. Also, Dos Santos could find his bete noire in Patrice Evra and not have it as easy as he did against South Africa.
For Mexico, Rafael Marquez lends some solidity to an otherwise weak defence. In contrast France has a formidable defence, while the forward line lacks the creativity that won the World Cup in 1998.
In recent years, France have bounced back whenever expectation was low; they will seek to put the Uruguay match behind them. With Marquez and Rodriguez unlikely to be able to keep pace with France’s forwards, the clear edge rests with the 1998 champions.