France and Uruguay shared a goalless 0-0 draw in their Group A FIFA World Cup 2010 encounter this evening.
France edged the opening exchanges before in the 7th minute there was a huge chance for Govou after Ribery followed a lucky deflection down the left with a great low cross. Govou somehow failed to turn the ball home from within 5 metres of the full width of the goal.
France looked buoyed by the effort, though, and began to play with a little of the composure that they have been so lacking in the past four years.
Uruguay’s first opening of the match came on 11 minutes but the prolific Suarez was well offside by the time the ball to him was played.
In the 16th minute Diego Forlan exposed the French defence and produced an excellent save from Hugo Lloris in the France goal. The shot from 20 metres could well have caught the goalkeeper out as it was hit with real venom.
France produced a good save from the Uruguay goalkeeper soon after as Gourcuff looked to catch Muslera unawares from a direct free kick. The keeper made a good enough save to his right at his near post, though would have to have been more relaxed to be beaten from the range and angle of the shot.
On 20 minutes the pattern of the game was France with most of the possession and producing occasional chances, but Uruguay seeming the more dangerous when they do get the ball and run at the slightly creaky French defence.
France were certainly showing more than many pundits predicted, which is unsurprising given that this is a World Cup and petty grievances are put aside for such occasions and, importantly, France are led by a man who, last time around, led them to the Final. These things do not happen by accident, and France looked like a well drilled side with a game plan, much unlike the side from the recent, heavily criticised friendly matches.
There was plenty of space afforded to France by Uruguay’s midfield, which appeared to help them with their confidence on the ball too.
The only thing lacking from the opening quarter was a goal.
Uruguay seemed happy to allow France the ball outside their own third and only willing to close down as play approached their area. This tactic seemed dangerous on a couple of occasions as Govou and Anelka ran at them at pace around the 25 minutes mark, though France failed to commit sufficient players to turn good attacking ball into a serious goal threat.
France, on the other hand, were more combative in midfield, closing down Uruguay and allowing them little time in possession.
Such work broke up Uruguay possession on 28 minutes and Nicolas Anelka had a half chance inside the Uruguay box soon after, though the ball failed to drop for the Chelsea forward to get a shot away.
Uruguay had a great chance to break the French back line again when Forlan played Suarez in, but the number 9 was offside once again, something about which Forlan appeared a little frustrated, perhaps because his strike partner had a good vantage point from whence he could see the entire French back line, and still mistimed his run.
The game then went fairly quiet for ten minutes as neither side seemed willing or able to make any attacking inroads. Franck Ribery, the left sided French attacking midfielder, began going deep to look for the ball, which signalled his intention to bring some life to the match.
Soon after, on 42 minutes, France produced a reasonable chance for Anelka with a cross from deep which the forward got his head to on around the penalty spot. His header would have to have been very good to score from such distance. As it was, the ball went out for a goal kick.
Diaby twice failed to convert possession in key areas into a goal scoring chance in the final couple of minutes of the half for France, the second chance coming after more good work from Franck Ribery.
The half ended soon after with the scores at 0-0.
France had shown more than anticipated, but had failed to land the killer blow, while Uruguay showed very little save a couple of attacking bright moments.
Anelka for France and Suarez for Uruguay were both guilty of being offside too frequently and at key moments in the first half, but there was enough to indicate that this game could go to France providing they get more moments of inspiration from Ribery and Anelka, who looked good in small spells, but failed to make a great impression thus far.
Uruguay also have a potent attacking threat, though, and have more than enough up top to make a game of it should they need a goal. In particular, if forlan and Suarez get used to playing together, Uruguay have a chance to score what could be a vital goal.
The first half had been, in truth, a fairly boring affair, however, and more was hoped for from the second period.
France kicked off the second half with an unchanged set of 22 players on the field.
Uruguay got a wide free kick 30 metres out after a foul by Diaby on Suarez. Forlan crossed the ball well but the ball was well headed clear by a French defender. From the resulting throw-in Arevalo Rios hit a volley from 25 yards which never looked like troubling Llores, the first chance of the half.
Forlan, five minutes into the second half, worked himself half a shooting chance in the French area after a good chest down from a long ball. Forlan shot high and wide with his volley, but seemed to land on Gallas who was making a covering tackle. The French defender looked a little lame for a short period after.
French Captain Patrice Evra injected a bit of pace into the game driving forwards with the ball before Gourcuff crossed well . The French header was tame, but Gourcuff would get a chance again soon after when the ball fell to him just outside the Uruguay box. The French midfielder blasted a good looking shot straight into the onrushing defender, as France began to creep back into this match after a tardy start to the second half.
On 56 minutes, Toulalan took a long, long range effort from 40 metres which produced a low save from Muslera in the Uruguay net – this lively ball seems to put shooting on some of the players’ radars even at long range.
France then produced another good chance on the break though this time Gourcuff was unable to find the final ball and thread through Anelka who was in a good position on the right hand side of the Uruguay penalty area.
France had shown five minutes of good pressure, but had failed to trouble Uruguay with any of their efforts thus far.
On the hour mark, Evra was fouled when bursting up the left flank by Victorino, who was the first Uruguay player to be shown a yellow card.
Gourcuff passed square from the free kick to Ribery but the French attacker sliced his shot from 22 yards as the ball to him was a little strong to hit with any real relish.
Gaps were starting to appear on the pitch, particularly in the Uruguay midfield, as half an hour remained on the clock.
Suarez worked another free kick for Uruguay around ten metres back from the left angle of the penalty area. Forlan placed the ball as Lodeiro came on to replace Gonzalez in the Uruguayan midfield.
Forlan hit a curling shot which bounced menacingly in front of Llores, who held the ball comfortably without having to make a dive.
Uruguay put Llores under pressure with a deep cross but the ‘keeper was challenged unfairly by Suarez.
Toulalan picked up a yellow card for a badly mistimed tackle on Pereira who had beaten his man easily, after which a small row between the players ensued, but soon fizzled out.
Thierry Henry began preparing to enter the field with 20 minutes remaining, and France needed something, as Uruguay were beginning to threaten at the other end, particularly through their own substitute, Lodeiro, who looked brighter in possession than the invisible Gonzalez had been.
Anelka was replaced by Henry on 72 minutes.
Uruguay continued their spell of territorial advantage with a couple of throw-ins high up the pitch, the second of which fell to Diego Forlan between the penalty spot and the edge of the area. The Uruguay striker struck the ball well enough, but just wide.
Suarez of Uruguay came off to be replaced before Malouda came on for France to replace Gourcuff on 75 minutes, with 15 minutes to make an impact.
France shuffled their forwards and played Malouda up the left, while bringing Ribery to a more central role. This change brought immediate fruit, though no goal, as France, through Ribery, got the ball to an attacking player in the Uruguay box for the first time in a long while. The ball ultimately went out of play, but France were showing signs that they were here for three points. At last.
Malouda had a long range effort fly narrowly wide with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Lodeiro picked up his second yellow card for a mistimed, studs-up tackle on Sagna. His first had been for kicking the ball away earlier, but the second was an ugly tackle with which nobody on the pitch in the blue of Uruguay could have any complaint.
France now had a great chance to take this match, if they needed an invitation to treat themselves.
Henry showed great presence to win a header from a long ball into the box, but his narrowly wide header wouldn’t have counted as he was walking back from an offside position.
Ribery beat his man before hitting a poor cross straight out of play for a goal kick on 85 minutes.
Gignac came on for France replacing the ineffectual Govou with five minutes remaining, the final throw of the dice for Domenech.
Perez was replaced for Uruguay by Eguren with three minutes remaining.
There was a big moment in the 89th minute as Thierry Henry got a cross from Sagna and hit a poor looking volley into a Uruguay hand. The referee immediately waved away appeals for a penalty.
France seemed really desperate to score in the three minutes of stoppage time, but it all felt a little too late, even against ten men, though the referee gave a lifeline with a free kick decision around 23 metres from goal.
Ribery and Henry discussed who was to take the free kick, but Henry placed the ball as the clock ticked past 93.
Henry hit a weak looking shot into the wall. The final whistle followed soon after.
Neither side deserved more than a point, such was the lack of ambition displayed today.
France could have won this match on the first half evidence, but they seemed to lack confidence in the final third, particularly, Ribery looked like a man trying too hard to carry the attack on his own, and was often caught in possession when a pass was available.
The Group A is all square, and, on tonight’s evidence, South Africa and Mexico look like they could well qualify from this group.