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Uruguay match will show how serious French fractures really are

| 11.06.2010

Just what bearing the disharmony within the French squad will have on the team’s performances will be revealed in their opening match against Uruguay later this evening.

First William Gallas declined to talk to the press after Raymond Domenech selected Patrice Evra as the country’s captain.

Then Franck Ribery refused to pass to Nicolas Anelka (5/1 first scorer favourite) following Thierry Henry’s relegation from the starting XI.

And now Domenech has admitted having stern words with Florent Malouda after the Chelsea man was “aggressive” with his tackles in training.

“Calm is not how I would describe the team spirit,” Domenech admitted yesterday.

France’s game against the South Americans will go a long way to demonstrating how the divisions have affected morale, and should indicate what stage the 2006 runners-up will reach this time.

Bettors should keep a watchful eye on who Ribery passes to, how much on-pitch talking Evra does, and whether Malouda transfers his over-zealous challenges to opposing players.

France are 11/10 to come out victorious but conversely 11/4 not to score.

Coupled with France’s poor qualification, the squad schisms will only add weight to arguments that this will be a bad tournament for the 1998 winners.

But writing off a team who have a habit of confounding expectations is a risky thing to do.

In 2002 France were predicted to impress but ended up going home after the group stage having not scored a goal.

Four years later they had an ageing squad and seemingly little chance of doing well. But consecutive wins over Spain, Brazil and Portugal saw them reach final.

Indeed it is this ability to beat the best teams in the world when it matters – a quality it seems England have not grasped – that should not be overlooked.

Which France will show up in South Africa? They are 6/5 to win Group A and 20/1 to lift to trophy.

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Author

John Klee