The second game of SA2010 could see an upset with under-fire France taking on talented Uruguay.
France, runners-up in Germany four years ago, approach their opening game in South Africa 2010 plagued by poor form and reports of internal strife.
Coach Raymond Domenech needs his side to hit the ground running in the Group A match in Cape Town on Friday night if the French are to dispel the negativity surrounding their camp and progress beyond the group stages.
Domenech has once again come under fire after an unimpressive run of friendly results, which reached its nadir with a 1-0 loss to China in their last warm-up game.
The France boss needed a vote of confidence from his federation to retain his job for the Finals, following their controversial qualification at the expense of the Republic of Ireland in the play-offs.
To add to Domenech’s problems, William Gallas has refused to speak to the French media for the whole tournament and Florent Malouda, Djibril Cisse and Sidney Govou have all questioned their coach’s tactics, although he has not been helped by the injury-enforced withdrawal of defensive midfielder Lassana Diarra.
This has led to Domenech tinkering with his formation, switching to 4-3-3, but, outwardly, he does not seem concerned by the criticism, saying: “To lose against China does not please me, but it was a preparation game. We will see what the players can manage on Friday.”
With France seemingly in disarray, Uruguay appear to have the perfect opportunity to maintain their unbeaten World Cup record against them in their third encounter.
In contrast to Domenech, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez is already sure of his side and has made two changes to the team who routed Israel 4-1 in their final warm-up game.
Andres Scotti makes way for Mauricio Victorino in defence, while Egidio Arevalo replaces Walter Gargano in midfield, Tabarez explaining: “The system we have chosen can adapt to the different things we could face against France.”
Diego Forlan has been passed fit to resume his prolific partnership with Luis Suarez after a training-ground collision with Gargano and so boosts Tabarez’s hopes of improving Uruguay’s disappointing recent Finals record of only one win in 16 matches. “The aim is to beat France, with all the respect we have for them and how difficult we know it will be,” he said. “We know that with less than five points it is difficult to qualify.”