Tuesday, June 22, 2010

France vs South Africa - Preview

South Africa

Group A, 14:00 GMT, June 22, 2010
Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa

It is safe to say that France are in complete disarray. Following their drab 0-0 draw with Uruguay and 2-0 reverse against Mexico, Les Bleus stand on the precipice of a second group stage exit in the last three World Cups. The surprise run to the final in 2006 seems just a distant memory and this time around, Domenech's side do not possess the Zinedine Zidane get-out-of-jail card.

Team Stat Comparison

FranceSouth Africa
Matches Played22
Table Position34
Goal Difference-2-3
Goals for *0.00.0
Goals against *2.00.0
Last 5L-DL-D
Last 5 homeLL-D
Last 5 awayD
*  Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club
Stats: France | South Africa

Competition Stats

FranceSouth Africa
GoalsSiphiwe Tshabalala 1
YellowsJeremy Toulalan 2Kagisho Dikgacoi 2
RedsItumeleng Khune 1
Squads: France | South Africa

France player to watch: Thierry Henry. Les Bleus' all-time leading scorer has become a peripheral figure in South Africa; the once mighty captain fantastic seems to have lost his va-va-voom to such an extent that he was an unused substitute against Mexico. But Anelka's departure opens the door for a return to the starting line-up that will likely be encouraged by his team-mates. One of the most talented players of his generation, Henry still possesses the talent to unlock any defence and could yet provide the inspiration to pull France back from the brink.
South Africa player to watch: Reneilwe Letsholonyane. The 'Divine Ponytail' he may not be, but Letsholonyane's locks have been seen bounding up and down the pitch in Bafana Bafana's first two games. Full of energy, he has been a driving force in South Africa's midfield; his ability to close-down opponents when they have the ball and burst forward at pace when his own team are in possession have made him an integral player for Parreira's side.
Key Battle: Abou Diaby v Kagisho Dikgacoi. The two men charged with being their sides' midfield ball-winners will likely play a crucial role in this encounter. With Jeremy Toulalan suspended, there will be extra-pressure on Diaby to provide Les Bleus with a box-to-box presence and some strength in the middle of the park. He will have his hands full facing up to the energy of Letsholonyane and Siphiwe Tshabalala, as well as the guile of Steven Pienaar, while the tough-tackling Digakoci certainly appears to have the tougher job on paper, with Franck Ribery likely to be given a free role as France's creator-in-chief.
Trivia: Uruguay's 3-0 win over South Africa last Wednesday represented the largest margin of victory against a host nation in the group stage in World Cup history.
Stats: Only three hosts have failed to finish among the top eight teams at a World Cup: Spain in 1982 (12th), the United States in 1994 (14th), and Japan in 2002 (9th).
Odds: South Africa (3.25), North Korea (2.30), the draw (3.30) are all on offer at Bet365, while Thierry Henry to score the last goal might be worth a flutter at 7.50.
Prediction: Anelka's removal from the squad and the subsequent player revolt may just spark the sort of siege mentality needed to inspire a struggling France side to victory. South Africa will be no walkovers but their fans will leave Free State Stadium feeling disappointed at Bafana's exit.

France will spark fire in 2-0 victory.

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