Determined Mexican side beats France 2-0

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  • Determined Mexican side beats France 2-0

 

Team France could not get any offense going in a 2-0 loss to a more determined Mexican squad in Group A qualifying action at the 2010 South African World Cup.

For a team with such a wealth of talent, the French side failed to capitalize on the opportunities they were given. They had several corner kick opportunities throughout the game with seven total kicks and were almost utterly unable to create offense off of them.

The loss virtually guarantees France will not get past the group stage at the Cup, as the best they can do will be to go 1-1-1. This is currently the worst either Mexico or Uruguay can do, but France has zero goals while Uruguay and Mexico have three apiece.

The Mexican offense played deep and looked for the long pass on offense, which cost them four offsides but also led to the critical first goal by Javier Hernandez. Hernandez showed beautiful finesse as he beat the offside trap by a hair to get a chip pass from Rafael Marquez. He then danced around French goaltender Hugo Lloris perfectly to give himself a wide open net.

It was a game Mexico deserved to win. They very nearly went up 1-0 in the first half after Marquez had set up Carlos Vela beautifully, but Vela missed the top of the net to keep the game scoreless.

French Stars noticeably quiet

For as talented a team as the French have, their star players didn’t perform up to standards, making uncharacteristic mistakes. Players such as Patrice Evry and William Gallas, one whom high hopes were being placed, were non-factors in the match. When they were needed to step up and create some offense, particularly at the end of the game, they went silent. At times the French side also looked like they lacked the hustle of the determined Mexicans, who chased down every ball hard and outworked the French.

French defenseman Eric Abidal also had a terrible performance, making two bad errors that led to Mexico’s goals. On Hernandez’s goal,  he thought the play was offside and actually turned his back to the play, giving Hernandez all the time and space he needed to beat a helpless Lloris. And he was also responsible for the penalty on Pablo Barrera, taking out the Mexican’s legs aggressively and giving the referee no choice but to call what was easily a penalty, which Mexico capitalized on to put the game out of reach for the French.

Coaching may have been the difference

French coach Raymond Domenech has been roundly criticized by the French and international press for the team’s play. Domenech had one of the best pools of talent to choose from to form his team but was unable to get them working cohesively in the run-up to the World Cup.  The French side failed to work together in their passing game and as a result did not create much in the way of significant rushes. Domenech also did not put France’s all-time leading scorer and former captain Thierry Henry into the game, despite having an available substitution.

On the other hand,  Mexico coach Javier Aguirre managed his team very well, including making two crucial substitutions that led to goal. Hernandez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco both came off the bench to score. Perhaps more importantly Aguirre’s substitution game began showing in the last third of the game as the French side looked increasingly lethargic and unable to generate any significant offense. France’s best chances came mostly within the first half hour of play as the Mexican side got stronger with time.