WC ’10 Group A — Uruguay-France
Aight…I need, but haven’t had a Gatorade after that fairly thrilling opening game! Hopefully the green tea I slammed will give me the physiological resolve to LIVE-BLOG ON—it’s truly exhausting work!
I have to say I am flagrantly backing Los Uruguayos here, but not financially. They’re bringing a lot of offensive firepower to bear on a disheveled France squad “organized” for battle by the tactically clueless Raymond Domenech. Herrrre’s the teamsheets, freshly stolen from the wire and still piping hot:
Uruguay: Muslera, Victorino, Lugano, Godin, Pereira, Maxi Pereira, Perez, Arevalo Rios, Gonzalez, Forlan, Suarez.
Subs: Castillo, Fucile, Gargano, Cavani, Eguren, Abreu, Lodeiro, Scotti, Alvaro Fernandez, Sebastian Fernandez, Caceres, Silva.
France: Lloris, Sagna, Gallas, Abidal, Evra, Govou, Gourcuff, Toulalan, Diaby, Ribery, Anelka.
Subs: Mandanda, Reveillere, Planus, Cisse, Gignac, Henry, Malouda, Squillaci, Diarra, Valbuena, Clichy, Carrasso.
Referee: Yuici Nishimura (Japan)
Silky-but-sulky striker Nic Anelka is preferred up front, with scarfaced sexxxfiend Franck Ribery providing creative support and Gourcuff & Toulalan in the center (no Malouda about…won’t pretend to understand Domenech’s tactical mind! But looks like Arsenal’s Abou Diaby is on the right side of midfield). Uruguay are lining up with a 4-4-2 (according to ESPN)…but actually have more of a 3-5-2 with Maxi Pereira of Benfica bombing down the right.
Baby’s crap prediction? Uruguay 2-1? Please?
21 seconds!: Keeper boots down to Forlan, who immediately tries to spring Suárez with a saucy backheel—but nope.
3 min: Domenech looks hella tan and is wearing contacts. Could it make all the difference? NB: Uruguay is indeed playing a 3-5-2…’cept it looks like a 5-3-2 right now.
4 min: This game is gonna be really ugly. Uruguayos like to kick folks into the air, as the cultural stereotype goes, but so far France are at the shirt-tugging and ankle-kicking vanguard. Anelka just clipped down Lugano while chasing a ball—pissing off the Uruguay captain doesn’t seem like a great idea, he’s like a dormant volcano (sorta).
7 min: Jinking down the right, Ribery puts in an ultra-dangerous cross but Govou contrives to tap it a yard right of the post.
11 min: Goatee-sporting Philadelphia Phillie Shane Victorino is playing right-back for Uruguay, having naturalized after never receiving a call-up to the Hawaii XI.
Missed a Hugo Lloris bobble there…accidentally tipping the ball over his own head. The man clearly has what it takes to make it at Arsenal!
15 min: France look decidedly more comfortable in possession, and have had the majority of it. They also seem to be sweating a LOT less than the Albicelesters, but could just be the colors of their kits?
16 min: THUMP! Forlan, pushes it onto his right foot and takes a hearty pop from the edge of the box. Lloris is alert to it though and bats it away.
22 min: Editorial stream-woes. Pixels not players…coming back soon!
24 min: Sorta back, but fuck-all happening here. NEED TO FOCUS!
28 min: Diego Lugano, despite being captain and an experienced centerback, is having a helluva time clearing the ball. Uruguay looking a bit tatty at the back here.
40 min: Pareira’s knee has gone all jammy after booting Govou in the foot. He’s seemingly OK though—thrilling!
Halftime!!! My analysis has not been trenchant, but neither team has given me much to work with! My TeeVee commentator just described Uruguay as obstinate—probably fair, but they’ve also looked a little panicky. Sure France have shown composure, but perhaps too much. Hopefully Domenech busts out the star charts and sorts thing out at half time.
Correspondent/Coworker Leigh informs me of this chestnut from the opening ceremonies…a symbolic dung beetle rolling an enormous soccerball! I think this was the lead-in to R. Kelly. This match so far has been a bit more like 22 players rolling a (gradually larger & larger) ball of shit around the Cape Town pitch…but I’m holding out hope!
2nd half is go! Forlan and Suarez half another 1/4 of a chance to push forward…it is but it isn’t, you see. Here’s to hoping Uruguay gain a bit of fluency here in the 2nd half.
55 min: No hay mucho para contar…Uruguay have steeled things up at the back, looking a bit more resolute in repelling the French attacks. They’re still looking to Forlan to create his own chance, receiving the ball with back to goal. Nothing wrong with that, and it may well work!
59 min: French free kick on the left from 30 yards out, and Gourcuff tees it up horizontally for Ribery. He fizzes pretty far over.
63 min: 21 year-old creative mdifielder is on Nicolad Lodeiro is on in place of Gonzalez—an offensive change.
66 min: Sagna slips on the pitch and loses the ball to Forlan, and Uruguay break on a 3-on-2…Pareira gets in a cross, but its too close to the keeper Lloris.
68 min: There have been a couple of random yellows here, and now its Toulalan’s turn after he wipes out Pareira with a late tackle. The camera cuts away and Diego Lugano’s eyes have started to flash with the craziness I alluded to earlier. He’s nearly headbutting Toulalan as he talks shit…
70 min: Leggy pensioner Thierry Henry is set to come on, with the attendant hoo-haa from the crowd here. He’s on for Anelka.
72 min: The ball falls to Forlan after a Uruguay corner, and Forlan tries to hit it on the volley. He makes contact but screws it way wide. A juicy chance, squandered.
73 min: El Loco Abreu comes on for Suárez. A nice option to have coming off the bench, and poses a bit more of an aerial threat than the man he’s replacing.
74 min: World o’ change here, Gourcuff making way for as Florent Malouda comes on. Domenech is a bit of an idiot isn’t he?
80 min: RED CARD! One of those random yellows I casually mentioned but didn’t flesh out was Nicolas Lodeiro. Well he’s just collected his 2nd yellow for a late n’ crunchy tackle on Sagna. Cue the Minor Threat…RED! I’M SEEIN RED! I’M SEEEEEEIN
88 min: There’s a semi-legitimate claim for handball after Uruguay have trouble clearing, and Henry tries to roundhouse in a high-bouncing ball. The ball struck his arm, but was totally unintentional. Write your own headline re: Henry shouts for handball…
90+1 min: Rearguard action for Uruguay, who just need to hold out here…France are knock-knock-knockin’ though.
90+2 min: Lugano’s eyeballs are about to burst as a flimsy-ass freekick is given to the French about 5 yards outside of the box.
PEEEEP! PEEEP! PEEP! Uruguay hold out, despite playing with 10 men for the final 15 or so minutes. They didn’t offer a whole hell of a lot going forward, but they’ve snatched a point from what is perhaps the most difficult game of the group (wait, fuck that, Mexico is tougher! point rescinded! [ed. my “point”, not the one earned by Uruguay]). However, Forlan looked capable of creating something out of scratch, once Uruguay cohere a bit and find some slightly more inventive services for their frontmen—though he did semi-fluff the match’s most clear-cut chance @ 72 min.
This result leaves everyone in Group A with a point a piece. Next Group A action will be next Wednesday the 16th with South Africa–Uruguay, then Mexico–France the day after! What more can a man say except…get Alexei Lalas off my TeeVee!