Head coach Raymond Domenech has hinted to his squad that he will not start Thierry Henry in the side’s Group A opener against Uruguay, and many of the players are unhappy with this decision.
Henry is France's all-time top goalscorer with 51 goals but, over the past year, his first-team opportunities at domestic level have diminished. After being a key figure in the Barcelona side that won an unprecedented six trophies the season before, Henry only started 19 games for the Spanish outfit with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and youngster Bojan Krkic often being preferred to him.
This has obviously had an impact on Domenech’s decision, as when he was on the pitch Henry looked a shadow of the player of just 12 months before, making sloppy mistakes, and his fiery pace had all but vanished.
The more influential members of the French squad, however, believe that Henry deserves to be in the starting line-up against Uruguay on Friday, along with Abou Diaby, but the head coach wants to pick Yoann Gourcuff and Sidney Govou.
France made it to South Africa after Henry successfully got away with using his hand in the play-off against the Republic of Ireland to palm the ball into William Gallas’ path for the defender to head home the winner.
But rather than be happy to be in the tournament and try and prove to the world that maybe they deserve to be there, splits and divisions have emerged in the camp to the extent that some players are refusing to pass to others.
During their recent friendly against Costa Rica, it was suggested that Nicolas Anelka refused to pass to Gourcuff, with Franck Ribery also apparently selective with his passing last week as the French fell to an embarrassing defeat at the hands of China.
Domenech has not admitted publicly that there are any cliques in the camp, but he has experience in this kind of situation, after guiding France all the way to the final in the 2006 World Cup.
Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna said: ‘We can maybe give him some advice or help but even if we were to offer it I don’t think he would listen. The most important thing is the team."
But Chelsea’s French forward Florent Malouda urged unity, saying: "We have to create links between players, we can’t just think, 'I’m not interested in what others do'.
"We are going to look ridiculous if, as we did at Euro 2008, each player stays in his comfort zone aiming only for good marks from the media to the detriment of the team."
The French will be desperate for an opening victory against a talented Uruguay team on June 11, with games against Mexico and hosts South Africa to come.
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