Friday, November 19, 2010

France vs Argentina - Preview

Perhaps the most mouthwatering match of all of the november internationals is tommorrows clash between France and Argentina in Montpellier. It is to be the first ever clash between the third and fourth played sides from France 2007 in Montpellier but the venue is no stranger to international rugby having hosted four matches at Rugby World Cup 2007. It hosted Tonga vs USA, Samoa vs Tonga, Australia vs Fiji and South Africa vs USA. The clash was originally scheduled for Lyon but was latter moved due to complications between the FFR and soccer authorities.

Montpellier has a team in the Top 14 (Montpellier Herault) who have three Argentine players and one USA international player in addition to two current French internationals. Of the three Argentine players one will be in the starting XV - Santiago Fernández. France's two Montpellier players will miss the clash however with flyhalf François Trinh-Duc injured and backrower Fulgence Ouedraogo left out of the side for the contest.

History

The lasting memory for many people from Rugby World Cup 2007 are the two Pumas victories vs hosts France that changed the shape of the pool matches and underlined the importance of the Bronze Final. Argentina won the two matches despite experts predicting French victories. The fact is that France eliminated Argentina from Rugby World Cup 1999 with a quarter final victory but since this time Argentina have won seven of the nine matches played between the two countries. France's two victories were tight - in 2006 France won 27-26 in Paris and in 2008 France won a tryless match 12-6 in Marseilles. In comparison, France have played World Champions South Africa ten times during this period and have defeated the Springboks in six of these matches and drawn another. In other words, Argentina are a very difficult opponent for France - more difficult than South Africa.

Form

Both France and Argentina won last weekend. France defeated Fiji in Nantes in a game ruined by rain. The Europeans scored three tries without conceeding one to win by 22 points. The French forwards were content to keep ball in hand without trying to score as many tries as possible. Argentina, on the other hand defeated Italy in Verona and won 22-16 with captain Felipe Contepomi scoring 17 points. The match was tied 6-6 at half time in a forward dominated contest. Despite this, the best Puma was winger Gonzalo Camacho. The hosts came close to scoring a try to Argentine born captain - Sergio Parisse but came up short. Parisse, however, had a fantastic match and in a collission with his opposite number - Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe the Puma ended up leaving the field hurt. The South Americans were already without two of their first choice backrowers in Alejandro Campos and Juan Leguizamon. After the interval, secondrower, Manuel Carizza was badly hurt and broke his arm. The victory, should therefore be viewed as a tough but important one.
France have made 14 changes to their side for this match. All forwards are different and Damien Traille is the only back to keep his place in the starting XV. Clermont captain, Aurelien Rougerie will play 13 for the first time ever for his country and interestingly France will only have 2 starters from Toulouse rather than the norm of 6 or more. Bayonne speedster, Yoann Huget will make his debut for France.

Argentina, on the other hand have made one change with secondrower, Patricio Albacete returning. The bench, however, sees substantial changes. Coach Santiago Phelan retains 5 forwards and 2 backs but he has opted for Marcelo Bosch to wear the 22 shirt in what will be his first appearance fro Argentina since June 2008 following shoulder and knee reconstruction. In the forwards Juan Figallo falls out as Argentina look to have only one prop on the bench but have gone for two secondrowers in Esteban Lozada and the newcomer - Julio Farias Carbello.

Key Matchup
Without question this match will have a number of vastly important individual matchups. Overall, Argentina have a better front and secondrow but France have a superior backrow. In the backs, both teams will be without their flyhalf as Trinh-Duc and Juan Martín Hernández are both injured. In place of these two there will be an important clash in Damien Traille vs Felipe Contepomi who are two inside centres. Contepomi is the more creative and Argentina will look to him throughout the match. At the back, the battle of Alexis Pallison vs Martin Rodriguez Gurruchaga will be crucial as two probable stars at next years Rugby World Cup go head to head. On form the Puma is carrying an important advantage which could be very important to his side. Marc Andreu vs Gonzalo Camacho is sure to merit attention as the speedy Frenchman looms as a vital player for his country. Up front Nicolas Mas vs Rodrigo Roncero looms as being huge for determining the outcome of scrums and a lot around the field. Sebastian Chabal vs Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe will simply be massive. But the most important clash may well be between two players who are to retire after New Zealand 2011. William Servat vs Mario Ledesma are two of the worlds best hookers and two veterans. Both are excellent in defence and around the field. The player that comes out on top of this battle will contribute greatly to his teams chances of success.

Prediction

France is out for revenge after being embarrassed in losing 41-13 to Argentina in Buenos Aires in June. Argentina are looking to continue their progress this year and nothing other than a victory will be an acceptable result. Many French players selected are not the best players in the Top 14. It would appear that players such as Bonnaire, Chabal, Pallison and Traille have been selected on reputation rather than form.  The South Americans, in contrast, have selected a group of players who are performing well in France and Europe in general and it is fair to suggest that although they will need to play very well to win, it is Argentina´s game to lose. Argentina to win by 7 points.

France

15 Alexis Pallison (Brive)
14 Yoann Huget (Bayonne)
13 Aurelien Rougerie (Clermont)
12 Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse)
11 Marc Andreu (Castres)
10 Damien Traille (Biarritz)
9 Morgan Parra (Clermont)
8 Sebastien Chabal (Racing Metro)
7 Julien Bonnaire (Clermont)
6 Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse)
5 Julien Pierre (Clermont)
4 Lionel Nallet (Racing Metro)
3 Nicolas Mas (Perpignan)
2 William Servat (Toulouse)
1 Thomas Domingo (Clermont)

Reserves
16 Guilhem Guirado (Perpignan)
17 Luc Ducalcon (Castres)
18 Jerome Thion (Biarritz)
19 Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz)
20 Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz)
21 Fabrice Estebanez (Brive)
22 Jerome Porical (Perpignan)

Argentina

15 Martín Rodriguez Gurruchaga (Stade Français, France)
14 Gonzalo Camacho (Harlequins, England)
13 Gonzalo Tiesi (Stade Français, France)
12 Santiago Fernández (Montpellier, France)
11 Lucas González Amorisino (Leicester, England)
10 Felipe Contepomi (Toulon, France)
9 Nicolas Vergallo (Toulouse, France)
8 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (Toulon, France)
7 Miguel de Achaval (Alumni)
6 Genaro Fessia (Córdoba)
5 Patricio Albacete, (Toulouse, France)
4 Mariano Galarza (Leinster, Ireland)
3 Martín Scelzo, (Clermont, France)
2 Mario Ledesma (Clermont, France)
1 Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Français, France)

Reserves
16 Agustin Creevy (Clermont, France)
17 Marcos Ayerza (Leicester, England)
18 Santiago Guzman (Tucuman)
19 Julio Farias Cabello (Tucuman)
20 Alvaro Galindo (Racing Metro, France)
21 Alfredo Galindo (London Irish, England)
22 Marcelo Bosch (Biarritz, France)

3 comments:

  1. Well history and beautiful video. Is impressive the potence of Felipe Contepomi, that are in the age limit and haves the abilities and the force of a player of 26 years old. I think that he could play as 8 is those could be neccesary. Perhaps when he leaves he international competence, If he continues playing in Buenos Aires, he will play as 8.---------In other order of ideas, and about the history between France and the Argentines: Do you know that the Provincial Selection of Tucuman defeated to the Bleus in 1992 or 1993, I dont remember well?. I don't know if these was the only victorie of a argentine provincial selection vs. France. ------
    But, about the match of tomorrow, I'm careful.

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  2. Excellent preview Paul! I’m somewhat surprise by your prediction but hey, you gotta have confidence in your team, right.

    I think the Pumas could knick an upset here. The French do tend to be vulnerable playing front of their home crowd at times. Furthermore, many Pumas are playing professional rugby in France so that they do know their opponent’s game too well.

    But I just think France will win this one, I hope I’m wrong here. Please remind on that, okay ;)

    Anyway about those two encounters from 2007, how could I ever forget? It does get very emotional at times, especially the opening match.

    I remember skipping a Company’s dinner party so that I could catch the match. Though the match was schedule at 2.30 am local time, I was afraid a bit more booze could lead to the possibility of me missing the match. I just could not let that happen.

    Deep down right from the start, I just had this feeling that something spectacular was about to happen in that match. But still, I did not want to get over confidence because the French were still home side.

    As momentum gathered, the Pumas were making good in roads in that match courtesy of Felipe CONTEPOMI penalty kicks. And then came the magical moment when Ignacio CORLETO ran the ball to score the try. I shouted out loud ignoring the fact I could’ve woken up the neighbours ;)

    When the referee blew the final whistle, I was very emotional. Tears came rolling down from my eyes. I’ll never forget that day.

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