It is officially time to start getting seriously worried if you a France supporter, as the French national team’s chances of advancing out of the group stage and into the Round of 16 took a substantial and serious hit Thursday in a disappointing 2-0 loss to Mexico.
In order to advance to the Round of 16, the squad will need to not only beat South Africa, but also have the Mexico-Uruguay not end in a draw in addition to making up a substantial goal-differential deficit with whoever loses that game (France is -2, Mexico is +2 and Uruguay is +3).
If France does not achieve the miraculous feat of advancing from the precarious position the team has placed itself, the 2010 World Cup will mark the second-straight major event the team has not advanced out of the group stage, previously going 0-2-1 for one point and a last-place placement at Euro 2008.
Also, the chemistry in the locker room – and in the country of France – cannot be much worse.
France striker Nicolas Anelka has been sent home and will no longer be a part of the World Cup after “refusing to apologize for an astonishing verbal attack on coach Raymond Domenech at half-time of Thursday’s 2-0 defeat to Mexico.” The exact quote from Anelka, with no censuring, may be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jun/19/france-worldcup2010
L’Équipe, a nationwide daily sports-focused newspaper based in France, had the headline, “Imposters!” following the disappointing loss to Mexico. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/jun/19/world-cup-2010-france
France appears to be continuing a bizarre recent history in World Cup play, either making the semifinals (or going further) or being eliminated in the group stage (or not even making the event). Nothing in between from 1982 to 2006 (four semifinal appearances, three group stage or worse finishes).
And, whether it’s a defensive style of play or the team simply does not have the offensive talent, the team’s lack of scoring ability has hurt the team immensely. Including friendlies, France has scored three times in six games, twice versus Costa Rica and once against Tunisia, both of those games being pre-World Cup friendlies.
Also, at the team’s most recent major event, Euro 2008, France tallied one goal while allowing six in its three matches.
The loss to Mexico was France’s first to the North American side in six meetings, as France went 5-0-1 in six games versus Mexico prior to Thursday, including 3-0-1 in competitive contests and 2-0-1 in World Cup play.
The France-South Africa game will start at 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) on Tuesday and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 in the United States (the Mexico-Uruguay game will be played simultaneously and may be seen live on ESPN).
France has played South Africa three times, going 2-0-1 against the hosts. One of the wins was a 3-0 victory at the 1998 World Cup, while the other two games were friendlies. The teams played to a 0-0 draw in Johannesburg in the teams’ most recent meeting in 2000.