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Michael Taylor 21st Jun 2010 - 12:56

Pile on South Africa to make France feel Bleus

In a World Cup dominated by European underachievement France surely have to be crowned champions.

Their blend of disorganisation, training ground rifts and pathetic on the field performances may draw some comparisons to England's supposed predicament, but you'd be fooling yourself if you believed our problems came close to the magnitude of theirs.

Every day evidence of a broken camp surfaces, however it wasn't until Sunday that things reached a head when the team revolted in protest of Nicolas Anelka's ejection from the tournament.

Patrice Evra went on the rampage, confronting the fitness coach. The team refused to train. And while all this was unravelling their surly coach Raymond Domenech, well to put it bluntly, did nothing.

It all goes to say that England should be thankful their biggest worry is beating Slovenia, last year's World Cup finalists would gladly settle for that right now.

Les Bleus' last group game sees them take on the not so mighty host nation - an encounter which many, including myself believe will be a dead rubber.

A win for either France or South Africa, in all likelihood means nothing, with Mexico and Uruguay seemingly inevitably set to play out a draw in the other Group A game.

It's a sad scenario for the hosts.

It needn't be a day of mourning though, in fact it'd be quite the contrary if they manage to beat the 1998 World Champions in front of their adoring fans.

And after watching France against Uruguay and Mexico I think everyone is in agreement that South Africa's task is far from impossible.

Their attack is as potent as PVA glue, defensively they have more antiques than David Dickinson closet and in midfield they're as colourful as beige with the era of Zidane and Deschamps a far cry away.

Hugo Lloris is just about the only one who can escape criticism so far and it could be up to him if his team want to come away from Le Coupe de Monde with even a sliver of credibility.

The home side may not have the talent or big names of their European adversaries but what they lack in that department they'll more than make up for in commitment and desire.

The brilliantly named Siphiwe Tshabalala will still be full of confidence after the wonder strike that opened the World Cup while Everton's industrious midfielder Steven Pienaar will be charged with unlocking the French back four.

It's a job made easier with sultry centre back William Gallas likely to have his mind elsewhere and Eric Abidal looking completely out of place in an unfamiliar central role.

There's also been enough to suggest Katlego Mphela is ready to make his name in front of goal and add to his 15 international goals after he came close to finding a way through the Uruguay game.

Mphela is the best bet to open the scoring at 9/1 while I fancy Pienaar to justify his reputation as the face of the South African World Cup and bag a goal at some point in the match at the great price of 6/1.

As for France it's almost a lottery who'll pull on the famous navy blue with Domenech sure to make a point of proving he's boss in what should be his last act in charge of the national team.

Anelka definitely won't be there, it'll be fascinating to see if Thierry Henry gets a chance though after he was famously left freezing in substitute wilderness for the Mexico game.

If he gets a chance then he carries loads of value at 5/4 to score anytime plus there's the advantage that another night of propping up the bench hands you your money right back.

As for the match betting, South Africa surely have to warrant support at 21/10 in a game that could yet be more open than many are anticipating.

Neither side has much to play for and in the same way both have much to prove, so the attacking football that's been so redundant in both teams' opening two games may come to the fore making 5/4 about over 2.5 total match goals look a very a decent bet.


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