Uruguay 0-0 France: Ten-Man Uruguay Hold Off France

With a star studded side, the French were clearly the favorites in this clash, yet a resolute, although unglamorous, performance from Oscar Tabarez’s Uruguay ensured France would have to be content with a goalless stalemate.

With South Africa and Mexico grinding out a draw in the opening game of the tournament, this was an opportunity missed by both, Uruguay and France, to go to the top of the standings in Group A.

If there were any concerns about this French team suffering from bouts of devastatingly low morale and incessant infighting, those would soon be put to rest courtesy a show of unity from France even before the first whistle. In a moment seemingly scripted for the television audiences, the French stars had their arms wrapped around each others’ waists as they sang the La Marsellaise – a performance that even included Abidal nonchalantly waving at the camera.

Raymond Domenech did not disappoint as far as throwing an odd surprise goes, when he opted to leave out Thierry Henry and the in-form Florent Malouda from the starting line-up. With Diaby replacing Malouda, and France relying on Anelka as the lone striker, the knowledge that they had never beaten Uruguay in a World Cup couldn’t have been comforting for Les Bleus.

Uruguay's goalkeeper Fernando Muslera clears the ball during the 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match against France at the Green Point stadium in Capetown June 11, 2010. REUTERS/Oleg Popov (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

France lacked potency up-front

France started off the hungrier of the two sides, looking for an early goal to settle their nerves. Domenech’s men certainly showed superior intent in trying to break away at the start, albeit in vain. The best chance of the half came when Ribery broke away from his marker and threaded in a superb cross only for Govou to miss it from agonizingly close range. Uruguay had a fleeting moment of hope themselves around the 10th minute mark, when the ball landed for Luis Suarez in a dangerous position, only for the Uruguayan to be flagged offside.

Evra deservedly saw yellow for his aggressive tugging of a sky-blue shirt, and at the other end Hugo Lloris did his image no favors as he fumbled the bouncing ball clumsily as the Uruguayans insisted he’d palmed it across the line. Nicolas Anelka was relegated to playing a cameo, as the Uruguayan defense hounded him every time the ball landed at his feet. His sole chance of redeeming himself came from a Yoann Gourcuff cross, but the moody Frenchman couldn’t keep his header down.

For all of France’s exploits in the middle of the pitch, they were crowded out and starved for space by Oscar Tabarez’s men in the final third. Relying solely on the counter attack now, Uruguay had a splendid chance of nosing ahead when Forlan aimed-in a powerful kick that was thumped away by a grateful Lloris.

Franck Ribery was a constant menace on the left and earned his side a free kick that Gourcuff may have wasted by trying to score himself. Gourcuff continued to disappoint, despite finding himself often in the thick of things. With Anelka losing possession all too often, and Ribery operating on the left, it was left to Sagna to provide the impetus on the right, as a full back – a potentially risky move considering Forlan was operating with aplomb on the same flank.

France went into the half-time interval, having had the greater possession and having offered the greater threat, but thanks to some woeful finishing and lack of potency up front, it remained scoreless. The unsung hero of the French side was the experienced Jeremy Toulalan who, positioned right in front of the defense, turned in an impeccable performance.

CAPE TOWN, June 12, 2010 Uruguay's Maximiliano Pereira (L) vies with France's Franck Ribery during a Group A match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 11, 2010.

Franck Ribery – an evening of effort in vain

The second half started off quite tame, as both sides barely threatened each others’ goalposts. Tempers flared after the hour mark, as Toulalan clumsily went in for a challenge. The ensuing fracas threatened to turn into a free for all, till even Domenech had to intervene. With the referee dishing out yellow cards liberally, both the French and the Uruguayans could be forgiven for looking to play out the remainder of the game in subdued fashion. The hapless Anelka was soon taken off with pre-tournament villain Thierry Henry coming on to replace him, to a lusty round of applause from the French supporters.

Uruguay’s best chance of the game came courtesy a pass from Suarez that culminated in a shot from Forlan that went just wide of goal, as Lloris was stranded in no man’s land. With just a quarter of an hour left, the ineffective Gourcuff was substituted for Malouda, and almost immediately the French found themselves cranking up the pressure at the opposite end. As the clock ran down on regulation time, and Uruguay seemingly content to see the game to a scoreless end, Malouda tried his luck from long range only to miss the goal by a comfortable margin.

With France desperately probing for a result, Lodeiro infamously became the first player to receive a World Cup red-card on African soil, for a terribly timed challenge on Sagna. The accumulating French pressure began to pay dividends as the ball spent the last five minutes almost exclusively in the Uruguayan penalty area, and in a twist of irony it was Thierry Henry making the most vociferous appeal for a handball.

In the final minute of the game, as the French pressed frantically for a goal, Diaby managed to secure a free kick just outside the box. Henry’s free kick was a weak and feeble attempt at chipping the ball over a determined Uruguayan wall.

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TheHardTackle’s Player of the Match:
Franck Ribery (France)
In a game desperately short of match-winning performances, the best player of the game, albeit in patches, was France’s Franck Ribery. Despite his inability to fashion a goal or provide several goal-scoring opportunities for his compatriots, Ribery was by far the player with the biggest contribution for the cause of Les Bleus. Terrorizing the Uruguayan defense on the left flank, he’d be disappointed not to have greater support from his teammates.

TheHardTackle’s Referee Report Card:
Yuichi Nishimura – Grade: B
The Japanese showed a penchant to dish out the cards, even handing Lodeiro the dubious honor of seeing the first red card of the tournament. The fracas that ensued after Toulalan’s clumsy challenge could have also been avoided by a sterner official, with much more on-field presence.

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MATCH STATISTICS


FRANCE 0-0 URUGUAY
Venue: Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Attendance : 64,000

French Line-Up: Hugo Lloris, Eric Abidal, William Gallas, Patrice Evra, Bacary Sagna, Abou Diaby, Jeremy Toulalan, Nicolas Anelka (Thierry Henry 72′), Yoann Gourcuff (Florent Malouda 75′), Franck Ribéry, Sidney Govou (Andre-Pierre Gignac 85′)
Manager: Raymond Domenech
Caution: Evra, Toulalan, Ribery
Sent-off: None
Scorers: None

Uruguay Line-Up: Fernando Muslera, Diego Lugano, Diego Godín, Mauricio Victorino, Egidio Arévalo, Diego Pérez (Sebastián Eguren 88′), Ignacio González (Nicolás Lodeiro 63′), Álvaro Pereira, Maxi Pereira, Luis Suárez (Sebastián Abreu 74′), Diego Forlán
Manager: Oscar Tabarez
Caution: Lugano, victorino, Lodeiro
Sent-off: Lodeiro
Scorers: None

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66 Responses to “Uruguay 0-0 France: Ten-Man Uruguay Hold Off France”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. MBFan says:

    Disappointing match!!! A dull draw!!!
    That save by the Uruguay goalkeeper off Gourcuff freekick is the highlight of the match. This guy Gourcuff was impressive in his maiden WC match, particularly from dead ball situations on the left side.

  2. SiO2 says:

    Gourcuff went for personal glory everytime he was gifted the ball. Trying too hard to be Zidane perhaps!

  3. crouchey says:

    Poor from France. They weren’t particularly exciting in the last world cup, as well. What a close group this could turn out to be.

  4. Aman says:

    Toulalan was my MOTM by a distance. Ribery I thought was very disappointing.

  5. Aman says:

    Toulalan was my MOTM by a distance. Ribery was disappointing.

  6. Anurag says:

    France looked organised, but were not sharp enough. Placing Diaby and Tolulalan together was not a great move in particular as it restricted the movement. Gorcuff was good, although little selfish at times, but he can be the man for France this WC. As far as Malouda is concerned, if Ribery palys at the left, I dont think malouda can play on the right.

    For me the man of the match would be Forlan, if Uruguay has any hope this man is the key. Forlan and Suarez were playing a little deeper than they should have been, Uruguay had there strategy worked out, Forlan was working in the spaces between Gallas and Sangna. The man is in a great touch and If the midfield could do him a favor, he can be dangerous.

  7. Arnav says:

    Pathetic match. If France wants to move to the next round and beyond that then this has to be their worst match of the tournament. Else this team has no future.
    And Uruguay==Forlan. The team defended well. But they lacked intent of doing anything purposefully. They were listless and wasteful in attack. To be precise, apart from Forlan nobody wished to attack. Lodeiro, the guy who was sent off, is supposedly ‘Uruguayan Messi’-the most bitter irony.
    Gourcuff showed that he can not receive the ball properly and has a first touch worse than that of Drogba’s.Ribery, IMO,was awful last night. He must get back to his best to save this team.
    Also I hope sanity returns to Domenech’s head and he starts off with Malouda from next match onwards.

  8. Sarad says:

    Ribery was the player of the match? Gotta be kidding me? To me it has to be Diego Godin and that too by a big distance.

  9. Great blog post.Really looking forward to read more.

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