France wonder about their attack after Argentina loss
PARIS, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Once considered the best strike pair in the world, Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet's inability to break down Argentina's defence has left France searching for a new partnership in the Euro qualifiers.
Argentina won Wednesday night's friendly 1-0 at the Stade de France with an early goal from striker Javier Saviola.
France, equal on points with Scotland at the top of Group B, visit Lithuania for their next qualifier on March 24.
Henry, the France squad's top scorer with 39 goals from 92 internationals, looked on one of his off days. Despite playing the whole match, he failed to create a single chance.
His trademark speed was of little use against the experienced Roberto Ayala who celebrated an Argentine record 107th cap.
Trezeguet, back in the team after missing France's last outing through injury in November, spent a lot of time running for the ball in vain.
Except for a close-range shot four minutes from the break, the Juventus forward showed nothing and was replaced by Nicolas Anelka midway through the second half.
It is France's second recent defeat with Trezeguet and Henry playing together up front. Les Bleus bowed 1-0 to Scotland in Glasgow in October.
'Their partnership is not new. They played together back in 1998 and in 2000,' said coach Raymond Domenech. 'It can be an interesting duo. But there can be others.
'You can't be completely satisfied when you lose. We made several wrong choices on several of our moves. Many passes failed to be delivered, 'he added.
'And when you take on a side as solid and as experienced as Argentina you have to be highly accurate or you don't have a chance to knock them out of their stride.'
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The problem seems less Henry's than Trezeguet's.
The Arsenal captain has never hidden the fact that he does not feel totally comfortable when he has to share the attacking duties with a player in the number nine position.
Henry never looks more at ease than when he is slotted alone on the left wing and the presence of Trezeguet hovering in the box seems to be more of a hindrance than a help to him.
He links really well with players who stay in a right winger's role like Olympique Lyon's Sidney Govou or Manchester United's Louis Saha.
With Henry and Saha, France won 2-1 in Bosnia in a friendly in August and beat Georgia 3-0 away in a qualifier in September.
The presence of Govou was the key to the 3-1 success over world champions Italy at the Stade de France last year, with the Lyon striker hitting a double.
'We will have to do much better next month in Lithuania," Domenech said. 'We will have to be much more efficient.'
In a group which features Italy and Ukraine, Domenech knows that France need to grab as many points as they can against the lesser sides.
"We let three points go in Scotland. We can't afford to do that again," he said.
Even a draw will be a poor result in Vilnius next month.