It’s not so much that the draw between France and Uruguay was a surprise. But it is a shock to see the French held off the scoresheet. Seriously, Les Bleus, you couldn’t tally a single goal, even with Uruguay down to 10 men for the last nine minutes?
Where does the blame lay? Easy, look no further than French coach Raymond Domenech. There’s a reason France’s fans have a beef with their coach. Flourant Malouda doesn’t come off the bench until the 75th minute? What are you waiting for? First off, Malouda should have started. Secondly, in a 0-0 draw in a game you are controlling possession of, you don’t wait until the 75th minute to bring one of your top attackers off the bench until the last 15 minutes. I know it’s a strategy many teams use, but most teams don’t have a young, talented scorer like Malouda riding the pine. He should’ve been brought in in the 60th or 65th, giving him plenty of time to get into the flow of the game. Domenech couldn’t have been worried that early about a loss. He must have known he was going to get at least a draw, with the way his team was playing.
Now let’s look at their formation. Working from the back Les Bleus went with a 4-5-1. Ugh. That’s something a team like New Zealand or North Korea would do. Stack the back and hope for a counter. I understand Domenech thinks five midfielders will provide plenty of offense (and to be fair they did control possession), but with Nicolas Anelka alone up top, the formation rarely proved effective in the offensive third. Too many midfielders were forced to shoot from distance. Anelka, a worldly talent, works better when he’s paired with another striker, like he is at Chelsea when he plays with the Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba. Too often the wingers or Anelka would cross the ball and there would be no one there to receive it.
Domenech should have started Malouda as a wing midfielder and had Franck Ribery up top with Anelka. Or when he brought Theirry Henry on in the 72nd minute, Domenech should have left Anelka in with Henry up top and subbed out Sidney Govou for Henry.
Can you tell I was disappointed in France’s tactics?
On the other side, Diego Forlan won’t be held scoreless the rest of group play. The Uruguayan striker was a threat more often than not, even when it was him against the French back four. If Forlan sees the ball as often against Mexico and South Africa as he did against France, Uruguay will be on the score sheet by next game.
– Scott Kaniewski