2010 World Cup Preview – France

The journey to South Africa has been a long and tumultuous one for 1998 champions France. Raymond Domenech’s charges stuttered through their qualifying campaign which ended in the infamous Thierry Henry handball incident; a microcosm of the problematic and desperate situation France find themselves in with weeks to go before the World Cup kicks off. The much maligned coach who will step down at the end of the tournament is guilty of making some questionable decisions not only in selection and tactics, but with bizarre and counter-productive comments to the media that have left the nation pessimistic that Les Bleus will win their second world title this summer.

Lloris and Mandanda have been Ligue 1’s most consistent performers between the posts for the past few seasons and will fight it out for the number one jersey, though Sebastian Frey, whose form for Fiorentina has been stellar, has been overlooked for reasons unknown to anyone but Domenech. The French have an embarrassment of riches at full-back with Sagna operating down the right and one of Abidal, Evra, Clichy or Cissokho providing threat down the left. In the middle though, the tiring legs of William Gallas may prove a liability against dangerous attackers of group opponents Uruguay (Forlan and Suarez) and Mexico.

Domenech has been widely criticized for his insistence on deploying two holding midfielders in the shape of Toulalan and Lassana Diarra to sit in front of the defence. His reasoning is that it frees up the more creative talents of Ribery and the superlative Yoann Gourcuff further up-field, but results have been far from fruitful; France scored just 18 goals in qualifying, against the likes of Lithuania and the Faroe Islands. Ribery has endured a somewhat inconsistent term at Bayern, with questions regarding his next club perhaps taking precedent over his form on the pitch. If his future is resolved before the World Cup, a focused and undoubtedly talented Ribery will be France’s most potent attacking threat…

Read the full France World Cup Preview in which the decline of Thierry Henry is discussed as well as the struggles that they’re likely to face at http://topcam.wordpress.com/