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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

FRANCE vs SOUTH AFRICA >>> Match Preview

BOTH TEAMS OUT TO SALVAGE SOME PRIDE With just a single point each after their opening two games, France and South Africa meet on Tuesday 22 June in the FIFA World Cup equivalent of a last throw of the dice. Although their respective hopes of qualifying for the Round of 16 appear slim, the fact remains that a victory for either Uruguay or Mexico in the other match in Group A would significantly boost the duo's prospects of progressing.
First and foremost, however, there is a question of pride. As tournament hosts, the South African players would love nothing more than to provide their adoring fans with a home victory, while the French are desperate for three points to avoid making a bad situation even worse than it already is.

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. Domenech's side do not possess the Zinedine Zidane get-out-of-jail card.

After witnessing their goalless draw with Uruguay and 2-0 loss to Mexico, many observers felt that France looked like a side bereft of ideas. Be it in warm-up matches or in competitive encounters on South African soil, Raymond Domenech has continued to make all manner of tactical changes, all to no avail. In what could be his curtain call as national coach, he may well favour simply revitalising the team rather than making further adjustment’s to Les Bleus’ formation. It would be no surprise then to see certain players more accustomed to sitting on the bench up to this juncture lining up to sing La Marseillaise in Bloemfontein.

In the opposing camp, the South Africans “want to exit the competition head held high,” according to coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. While their performance against Mexico in the opening match was commendable, the same could not be said of their subsequent 3-0 defeat to La Celeste. It is that result which will force the hosts to pounce on any chances that come their way against France, if they are to have any realistic chances of getting out of the group. Reinforcements in attack therefore look likely.

Players to watch
Moneeb Josephs v Hugo Lloris
The pressure is sure to weigh heavily on the shoulders of two players in particular on Tuesday afternoon. The services of Moneeb Josephs and Hugo Lloris, goalkeepers of South Africa and France respectively, will no doubt be called upon numerous times in a match where both teams have nothing to lose. The Bafana Bafana back-up keeper, brought in for Itumeleng Khune following his red card against Uruguay, could be in for a long 90 minutes. As for Lloris, he is in the privileged position of being one of the few French players to have maintained his pre-tournament form. He will need to be at the top of his game to avoid reopening a long-running debate over whether he or Marseille’s Steve Mandanda should be considered France’s undisputed No 1.

Key Battle: Abou Diaby v Kagisho DikgacoiThe 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 : The number of times that France have found themselves in the same FIFA World Cup group as Uruguay, Mexico and the host country. In 1966, the French were found wanting against those opponents in the group stage of the competition, failing to qualify for the next round. Does the same fate await them this time around?

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. Pressure? Neither team playing well but RSA don't habe an Anelka !!!
At least the host can play with peace of mind

Take SOUTH AFRICA + 1/4 ball (Main Bet)

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Odds Centre >>> www.asianbookie.com

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