Uruguay 0 France 0

Uruguay: Muslera; Victorino, Lugano, Godin; M. Pereira, Perez, Arevalo, Gonzalez, A. Pereira; Forlan, Suarez

France: Lloris; Sagna, Gallas, Abidal, Evra; Toulalan, Diaby, Gourcuff; Govou, Anelka, Ribery

Uruguay and France played out a dour 0-0 draw in Cape Town this evening, with Ajax’s Nicolas Lodeiro sent-off in a game characterised by a lack of imagination and penetration in the final third from both sides.

As expected, France lined up in the interpretation of 4-3-3 they experimented with in their pre-tournament friendlies, although there were a few surprises in amongst Raymond Domenech’s selection. Florent Malouda was the most notable name left off the team sheet, with rumours of a serious altercation between the Chelsea player and his national team Coach doubtless affecting the derided tactician’s decision.

Uruguay were also set up in their expected formation, the 3-5-2 that they have used to good effect since the latter stages of the CONMEBOL qualifying campaign. The only slight variations on the anticipated starting eleven were Mauricio Victorino’s inclusion ahead of Andres Scotti and the selection of Egidio Arevalo with Walter Gargano taking up a place on the bench.

France started the brighter and created a number of half-chances throughout the first 45 minutes, with Sidney Govou and Yoann Gourcuff going close but failing to consistently break down a resolute and deep Uruguayan back three given extra protection by Arevalo and Diego Perez.

At the other end of the field, although Diego Forlan occasionally threatened Hugo Lloris’ net, Los Charruas struggled to get into the positions required to cause France problems, with Luis Suarez caught offside at regular intervals and Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna dealing relatively comfortably with the threats posed out wide by Oscar Tabarez’s team.

The second half offered even less in terms of excitement, with Uruguay dropping progressively deeper as the minutes ticked by and France getting narrower and narrower with the likes of Gourcuff having a negligible impact on proceedings. Domenech did eventually make some sort of effort to drag the game out of its malaise, bringing on Thierry Henry, Malouda and Andre-Pierre Gignac in the latter stages, but they could do little to break down a team intent on camping out on the edge of its own area.

The only moment of any real note came with ten minutes to go when Nicolas Lodeiro, the young Uruguayan playmaker who had been brought on as a substitute, was sent-off for an ill-timed lunge on Bacary Sagna. However, Lodeiro’s dismissal only served to make Tabarez’s side play with even more negativity, putting nine men behind the ball in the final minutes as a turgid game trickled towards its dour conclusion.

For many, this game only confirmed the doubts expressed over the organisation of the French side, with Domenech showing his characteristic ineptitude in the dugout, completely lacking in any sort of willingness to change the game. Uruguay, on the other hand, should be relatively happy with a point and will be confident ahead of their clash with South Africa on Wednesday despite not fulfilling their attacking potential tonight. Let’s just hope we don’t have to sit through many games as lacklustre as this one over the next four weeks.

The Equaliser’s Man of the Match:

Franck Ribery (France) – Very difficult to pick an individual player that stood out in such a poor game, but, for showing more intent than most to liven up a turgid affair, Ribery gets it.