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Frustrating day for France

June 12, 2010
Latham By Brent Latham
Special to ESPN.com
(Archive)

Another tie on opening day doesn't mean everything came out even for France and Uruguay. Here are the winners and losers from today's second match:

French tactical organization, D-minus: It comes as little surprise given the Blues' performances of late, but France's collection of individual stars often resembles a jumble of friends playing a pickup game. What should be a dangerous arsenal of attackers is instead a team that lacks any sort of cutting edge. The players don't seem to understand their roles in coach Raymond Domenech's tactical scheme.

Uruguayan formation, C-minus: Coach Oscar Tabarez and his Charrua side are rugged by definition. The unorthodox 3-5-2 formation the coach prefers would seem to fit into that, except that it didn't really work for the team today, on defense or offense. The three-man back line left far too much space for the French attackers to work in the attacking third. On the other end, Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez were often hopelessly isolated and outnumbered in attack, meaning Uruguay seldom threatened the French goal.

French wing play, B-plus: France drips with quality out wide, in defense and further up the field. Its wide players didn't disappoint on Friday, with Franck Ribery leading the charge. But even when France got plenty of dangerous play from the flanks, the final balls were often lacking and those that might have created danger never found their mark in the box.

Uruguay outside backs, C: One would have to think Mexico's and South Africa's speedy wingers are licking their chops thinking about playing Uruguay. The wide men on the back line, Diego Godin and Mauricio Victorino, were exposed repeatedly. Godin, who often plays center back, looked better mixing it up in the middle than facing the French on the flanks.

Diego Lugano, Uruguay, A-minus: The man responsible for cleaning up much of the mess created by his fellow defenders, Lugano was solid all day. He did earn a late yellow for delaying a restart, begging the question of how Uruguay would fare without him should he see another yellow card and earn a suspension.

Yoann Gourcuff, France, C-plus: The French creative bet in midfield, Gourcuff went from showing glimmers of hope in the first half to hopelessness in the second before giving way to Florent Malouda. A disappointing day for the man from whom big things are expected in South Africa.

Thierry Henry, France, B-plus: The famed attacker played only about 20 minutes, and did so without causing a huge amount of trouble for the Uruguayan defense. But Henry is a winner for what his replacement in the starting lineup, Nicolas Anelka, failed to do before Henry came on for him. While Anelka too frequently renounced his center forward role to drift rather aimlessly around the field, Thierry got stuck in around goal and became a bigger threat.

Referee Yuichi Nishimura, A-minus: In a match that threatened to turn ugly, Nishimura was consistent and firm, but not overbearing. He justifiably showed Uruguayan Nicolas Lodeiro a second yellow after a rough tackle on Bacary Sagna, and refused to give in to pressure as Henry appealed -- somewhat ironically -- for a pair of handballs in the Uruguayan area in the closing minutes.

Brent Latham covers soccer for ESPN.com. He previously covered sports throughout Africa for Voice of America radio and now works as a soccer commentator for a national television station in Guatemala. He can be reached at brentlatham@ymail.com.