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France rethinks strategy ahead of crucial match against Mexico

Video by Owen FAIRCLOUGH

Text by Nicolas DE SCITIVAUX

Latest update : 2010-06-17

After Uruguay's 3-0 victory against South Africa, the stakes are high for France in its match against Mexico on Thursday night. But with only three goals in the last five matches, the task looks daunting for coach Raymond Domenech and "les Bleus".

A few hours ahead of the much-awaited match against Mexico, one question is weighing on the minds of French football fans: how will Raymond Domenech resolve the enigma of the French team’s inability to score?

The question is even more pressing since Uruguay has settled comfortably into the lead of Group A after a 3-0 victory against Cup hosts South Africa.

Unlike in the first match, Florent Malouda is expected to start Thursday night's game playing on the left wing while the position's usual holder, Franck Ribery, moves to the centre.

Gourcuff sacrificed?

Barring any surprise, it is Yoann Gourcuff who will be sacrificed by this tactical reconfiguration. Many observers noted that in the match against Uruguay, Nicolas Anelka often avoided passing the ball to Gourcuff.

Ribery also tried to avoid including Gourcuff in the game.

For these reasons, speculation is rife that Domenech will keep the young star from Brittany on the bench on Thursday.

Who will start at centre?

So who will start as right winger and centre forward?

Sidney Govou put in a disappointing performance on the right in the first match, missing an opportunity to score around the seventh minute.

He therefore could be used as a substitute, with Anelka - who has not played effectively at centre forward the last few matches - starting on the right.

As for centre forward, it could be Thierry Henry, though the player usually takes the left for Barcelona. He does, however, manage to score in important matches, and if France qualified for the World Cup this year, it is in large part thanks to him.

Andre-Pierre Gignac appears to be in the best physical shape, but his middling club season (only eight goals scored in 31 matches) does not make him an automatic starter.

Whatever his choices, Domenech must wake his team up if he wants them to make it to the next round. A loss against Mexico would be seen as a catastrophe, and any victory would need to be by a significant enough margin for France to have a shot at finishing top of their group.

Date created : 2010-06-17

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