Featured Matches
Previous
Valencia
Malaga
3
0
FT
Game Details
FC Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund
2
3
FT
Game Details
Marseille
Nice
4
0
FT
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Houston Dynamo
1
3
FT
Game Details
Getafe
Almeria
1
0
FT
Game Details
Getafe
Almeria
1
0
FT
Game Details
Valencia
Malaga
3
0
FT
Game Details
FC Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund
2
3
FT
Game Details
Marseille
Nice
4
0
FT
Game Details
Perugia
Bologna
2
1
FT
Game Details
FC Union Berlin
Nurnberg
0
4
FT
Game Details
FSV Frankfurt
RB Leipzig
0
0
FT
Game Details
VfR Aalen
Kaiserslautern
2
2
FT
Game Details
AJ Auxerre
Valenciennes
1
2
FT
Game Details
Ajaccio GFCO
Troyes
0
4
FT
Game Details
Chateauroux
Orléans
0
0
FT
Game Details
Le Havre AC
Créteil
1
1
FT
Game Details
Nimes
Arles
2
2
FT
Game Details
Niort
Clermont Foot
0
0
FT
Game Details
Sochaux
Dijon FCO
0
1
FT
Game Details
Stade Laval
AC Ajaccio
0
0
FT
Game Details
Go Ahead Eagles
Willem II Tilburg
1
0
FT
Game Details
Achilles '29
Fortuna Sittard
0
3
FT
Game Details
FC Den Bosch
Jong Ajax
2
0
FT
Game Details
Helmond Sport
NEC Nijmegen
1
4
FT
Game Details
Jong PSV
FC Eindhoven
1
3
FT
Game Details
RKC Waalwijk
Jong FC Twente
1
2
FT
Game Details
SC Stormvogels Telstar
Almere City
3
1
FT
Game Details
Sparta Rotterdam
FC Volendam
0
5
FT
Game Details
VVV Venlo
FC Emmen VV
1
4
FT
Game Details
Academica de Coimbra
Vitoria Setubal
1
1
FT
Game Details
Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast
Terek Grozny
0
1
FT
Game Details
Balikesirspor
Akhisar Belediye
1
2
FT
Game Details
Caykur Rizespor
Genclerbirligi
1
1
FT
Game Details
KAA Gent
KV Kortrijk
0
1
FT
Game Details
Helsingborg
Halmstad
1
4
FT
Game Details
Orebro SK
Brommapojkarna
3
1
FT
Game Details
Athlone Town FC
Cork
2
2
FT
Game Details
Bray
UCD
2
0
FT
Game Details
Derry City
St Patricks
0
1
FT
Game Details
Dundalk
Bohemians
3
2
FT
Game Details
Limerick FC
Drogheda Utd
0
3
FT
Game Details
Shamrock
Sligo
1
0
FT
Game Details
Glenavon
Ballymena
2
1
FT
Game Details
Coleraine
Portadown
0
0
FT
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Houston Dynamo
1
3
FT
Game Details
Queretaro
Monterrey
0
1
FT
Game Details
Tijuana
U. de G.
1
1
FT
Game Details
Carmarthen
Port Talbot
2
1
FT
Game Details
Newi Cefn Druids
Connah's Quay
3
2
FT
Game Details
Aberystwyth
Bangor City
3
3
FT
Game Details
Airbus UK
Newtown
3
0
FT
Game Details
T.N.S.
Rhyl
6
1
FT
Game Details
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
San Antonio Scorpions
2
0
FT
Game Details
Unión de Santa Fe
Crucero del Norte
3
0
FT
Game Details
Huracán
Patronato
0
1
FT
Game Details
Instituto de Córdoba
Ferro Carril Oeste
1
1
FT
Game Details
Independiente Rivadavia
Atlético Tucumán
0
0
FT
Game Details
Temperley
Sp. Belgrano
1
0
FT
Game Details
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy
San Martín de San Juan
1
0
FT
Game Details
Atlante
At. San Luis
1
1
FT
Game Details
Coras Tepic
Lobos BUAP
0
0
FT
Game Details
Joinville
Oeste
2
1
FT
Game Details
Sampaio Correa-MA
América Mineiro
0
0
FT
Game Details
Santa Cruz FC
Goianiense
2
0
FT
Game Details
Arica
Palestino
1
0
FT
Game Details
12 de Octubre
Nacional
Postp
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Moroka Swallows
3
0
FT
Game Details
Chippa United
Ajax Cape Town
1
1
FT
Game Details
Next

Honigstein: Low's men coming of age

Germany Jul 5, 2014
Read

Quarterfinals Day 1: Favorites win through

Five Aside Jul 4, 2014
Read

Benzema exits Brazil with a whimper

France Jul 4, 2014
Read

Delaney: France run out of steam

France Jul 4, 2014
Read
Jun 10, 2014

Valbuena picking up Ribery's mantle

He is probably not the first name you would pick out of this French team. He is not a fan favourite or even a media darling, but he could well be the most important player for France in this World Cup. Mathieu Valbuena (34 caps, 5 goals) has been the best Bleu in the three pre-tournament friendlies -- consistent, sharp, decisive, in great form, and delivering precisely what manager Didier Deschamps was expecting from him in the post-Ribéry transition.

It is fair to say that Franck Ribéry loves teasing Valbuena. He is an easy target, as well. Not that it prevented "Petit vélo" ("little bike," his nickname in France) from performing alongside the Bayern Munich winger, but Ribéry's injury absence seems to have freed the Olympique Marseille midfielder.

In an 8-0 win against Jamaica on Sunday -- I know the Reggae Boyz looked like a pub team, but still -- Valbuena took the responsibility of leading the team. He became the first option when Les Tricolores had the ball.

On paper, his position was on the right, but Deschamps' instructions were to roam and find space in the pocket, behind Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema, and be decisive in the final third. That is exactly what Valbuena did. We saw him right, left and centre, dropping in the hole, taking on defenders as Ribéry used to or finding the right pass for the forwards. Valbuena's relationship with Benzema and Giroud was very good, and without the pressure of playing with Ribéry, Valbuena was himself -- and he shone.

- Johnson: France predictions
- Palmer: Group E preview

Technically, he has great ability, his passing and crosses are top drawer, his low centre of gravity makes him hard to mark, and his set-piece deliveries are very good. Of course, it won't always be as easy as it was against Jamaica. He will have to respond to Honduras' physicality, to Switzerland's talented and experienced midfield, and to Ecuador's organisation -- but he has the momentum and the qualities to overcome each of these challenges.

It's funny to see him in this kind of form when you consider the season he had at club level with Marseille in Ligue 1. He was poor nearly from start to finish, had a shoulder injury, and apart from a few glimmers of potential, he had his most disappointing campaign in years (just 3 goals and 6 assists in 34 Ligue 1 games). Valbuena will always surprise you.

In 2010, he impressed everyone with Marseille as they secured a league-and-cup double with Deschamps as manager. Those achievements, along with some eye-catching performances in France's buildup to the World Cup, earned him a last-minute call-up Raymond Domenech's 23-man squad.

Valbuena's parents and sister traveled with French journalists to South Africa to support him and watch him play. They got to see him on the pitch for 21 minutes, as he featured in only one of the three group games in France's disgraceful campaign.

Four years on, they will be in Brazil, too, but this time everything has changed. I don't think Valbuena's dad, Carlos, would have thought back in 2010 that his son would lead France and be its playmaker at the next World Cup.

With the absence of Franck Ribery, Mathieu Valbuena will be France's playmaker.
With the absence of Franck Ribery, Mathieu Valbuena will be France's playmaker.

It is a credit to how hard Valbuena has worked. It is also a credit to how Deschamps molded him into the player he is now. When "DD" was at Marseille, they had their issues. They didn't get on for a while, but the manager saw something in him that Domenech or Laurent Blanc didn't see.

At Euro 2012, Blanc named him to the squad, but despite showing well in qualifying and preparatory friendlies, Valbuena didn't play a second in the tournament. Clearly Blanc didn't think the midfielder was good enough for this level.

Valbuena is proving his former manager wrong now -- and is proving a lot of other people wrong. Valbuena is one of a few players in this France squad to have started his career in lower divisions, either at home or abroad, before making it to the top (Giroud, Laurent Koscielny, Ribéry, Patrice Evra and Morgan Schneiderlin are the others).

When he started playing at Libourne, near Bordeaux, in the French third division in 2004, no one wanted him. He had to fight more than others, mostly because of his height (at less than 5-foot-5, he will be one of the smallest players at the World Cup). He was turned down so many times by clubs, but he never gave up. The title of his autobiography is "My Obstacle Course." Marseille took a gamble on him in 2006, and it paid off.

He will turn 30 in September, so this is surely his last World Cup, and it's probably the most beautiful one he could have ever dreamt to be part of. It's now time for him to deliver.