France Camp Focus – Domenech losing control of Les Bleus ahead of Uruguay match

The first World Cup campaign of the post-Zinedine Zidane era kicks off for France amid controversy and confusion which have become synonymous with Coach Raymond Domenech’s reign. The main concern is the apparent division within the French camp with Domenech losing control of the situation as players begin to create their own cliques within the national team.

The situation has not been enhanced by the decision to hire Laurent Blanc, who will assume control of Les Bleus following South Africa 2010. With Domenech set to leave once the tournament is over, the majority of the players have begun to voice their disapproval of the Coach’s tactical decisions and player selections while controversial defender William Gallas has decided to cease any contact with the media for the remainder of the World Cup . Gallas is said to be upset at losing the captain’s armband despite Thierry Henry sitting on the bench with Domenech opting to name Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra as France skipper. Domenech’s departure in a few weeks means he has no influence on future selections beyond the World Cup and some of the players might feel empowered by the ability to voice criticism against the unpopular Coach without suffering consequences beyond the tournament.

The Gallas fiasco must be the least of the Coach’s concerns with some of the squad members upset about the tactician’s decision to bench Henry, considering the French have struggled for goals in their recent friendlies. Despite the former Arsenal hero’s failure to impress during his second-half appearances, there are some key players on the team who feel starting with Henry would be better than playing Yoann Gourcuff, who has not exactly done wonders for Les Bleus when on international duty, as opposed to the Barcelona attacker’s revered status as France’s all-time leading scorer. Some of the national team’s established stars such as Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery and Chelsea’s Nicolas Anelka are unhappy about playing with Gourcuff and there are indications this might be more than just some fabricated rumour emanating from the French camp as Anelka was not a willing passer to the Bordeaux player during the unconvincing win over Costa Rica, while Ribery deliberately took the ball from Gourcuff prior to taking a free-kick against China. For those who believe the players will not risk the chance to play in South Africa, the answer is quite simple: the smarter players can instigate others to relay their message of discontent. While Henry has remained silent and publicly accepted his role on the bench, there are no guarantees he did not indirectly prompt the likes of Ribery and Abou Diaby.

The issues do not end there, because there are members within the squad who support the inclusion of Diaby in the starting line-up instead of Sidney Govou, who has been operating on the right side as per Domenech’s formation with Ribery on the opposite left flank behind the aforementioned Chelsea striker. Govou has been visibly subdued in most of France’s friendlies, leading to increased speculation he is finding it difficult to blend with the rest of his teammates, with Florent Malouda making the clearest indication yet of the gravity of the situation as he urged his teammates to play together, to fight for one another and to put on a much better showing than the disastrous Euro 2008 campaign. Domenech’s time at the helm might be ending sooner than expected unless he can call upon all his astrological powers to create some cohesion in a faltering team with Les Bleus set to take on Uruguay on Friday. France ought to win the match in order to relieve some of the pressure ahead of playing a talented Mexican side before concluding group fixtures with a fiery match against hosts South Africa.

Domenech is expected to stick to his preferred line-up of Hugo Lloris starting in goal, protected by the back four of Bacary Sagna, Gallas, Eric Abidal and Evra. In midfield, J

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