France seek more punch against confident Mexico

June 16th, 2010 - 7:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Thierry Henry Polokwane (South Africa), June 16 (DPA) France need to find their goalscoring touch against a Mexico side who believe they could be one of the surprises of the football World Cup.
While Mexico drew the opening game of the tournament 1-1 against hosts South Africa, France played out a tame goalless draw against Uruguay in Group A.

Now the pressure is on for 2006 losing finalists France to lift their game here Thursday.

They will already know the result of the South Africa-Uruguay encounter Wednesday, but veteran Eric Abidal said the outcome of that match won’t affect the side’s thinking.

“Against Mexico we have to play for a win and nothing less,” Abidal said.

The Barcelona defender is not too bothered by the draw against Uruguay, saying Les Bleus also started their 2006 World Cup campaign in Germany in the same manner before going on to reach the final.

“In 2006 it was the same, we began with a 0-0 draw with Switzerland, but slowly but surely victories followed victories. We have to be able to step up a gear and make it out of the first round,” he said.

Coach Raymond Domenech is believed to be considering bringing back Thierry Henry to replace Nicolas Anelka up front after France seldom looked like scoring against Uruguay.

Florent Malouda is also again in contention after he was surprisingly left out against Uruguay amid reports the Chelsea midfielder had argued with Domenech in training the day before.

“Malouda to the rescue!” was the front-page headline in L’Equipe Tuesday.

Domenech, meanwhile, has a question mark over centre-back William Gallas who has a calf strain.

Mexico coach Javier Aguirre may not wish to tinker too much with the line-up that started against South Africa, and is thought likely to retain his three-pronged attack.

Mexico “will not change” its style, said Aguirre in training this week.

“It’s what has brought us here and we’re not going to change. Yes, we do leave a lot of space at the back, but we’re going to continue this way.”

Rafael Marquez, who has been moved from defence to bolster the midfield, said he expected Mexico to be harder to break down against France.

“We knew that the danger would be on their counter-attack, and that’s a risk we take in our style of play,” he said.

The Mexicans drew confidence from their draw against South Africa after starting strongly before Bafana Bafana bounced back in the second half.

“We can be the revelations of this tournament,” said midfielder Andres Guardado.

“There are always lots of surprises in football and though no one probably gives us a chance of getting through to the next round or quarter-finals, we remain confident.”

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