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Who would have thought a week ago that today might mark the exit of the World champions from the World Cup? But it is true. After faultering to the Senegalese Minnows, an unwelcome tie against Uruguay will not be savoured by many in France. A swagger of arrogance has led to misplaced faith in an automatic qualification. After the draw against Denmark this morning, The French group now looks as follows: 1st Denmark. Played 2 Won 1 Drawn 1 Points 4 2nd Senegal. Played 2 Won 1 Drawn 1 Points 4 3rd France. Played 1 Won 0 Drawn 0 Lost 1 Points 0 4th Uruguay. Played 1 Won 0 Drawn 0 Lost 1 Points 0
This means the loser of todays match between Uruguay and France can only manage a grand total of 3 points in the remaining group match. This would spell the end for one of them.
Hard to believe for an international side that boasts so many stars. Individual talents than constantly reap success in their domestic games.
Reasoning behind this? Well, I believe there is a huge difference between International football and domestic. An international side does not get to practice together often and so savours the times when it does meet up. As world Champions and European champions, the French have not had to endure months of qualification group matches for either majoy tournament. This has made them a lazy and complacent International side. Their biggest downfall.
They have come to Korea unprepared for competitive football, expecting to dazzle with their skills and command the respect of other nations. Instead of respect, they have met teams with green eyes of envy who treasure the bounty placed upon the gallic heads.
Looking at their side, it is hard to fault it.
At the back of them all is the excellent shot stopper Fabien Barthez. One major flaw in his game is his unorthodox method of saving and his unpredictability. With France's new "Throw caution to the wind" approach he fits in well. The trouble is, I feel he will cost them a place in the next round with his antics.
Sitting in front of Him is a defensive set of Marcus Desailly, Mikael Silvestre, Franck LeBeouf from English clubs whom you should recognise. Although LeBeouf has now returned to france to play, Also in this defence is the excellent Lizarazu and Lilliam Thuram. Another flaw? LeBeouf should not play centre back. He is ok at going forward and attacking but no one covers him. France are then left with gaping holes in their defence for opposing teams to exploit. Come accross a pin point team like Italy or Brazil and the French will be torn to ribbons playing like this.
In Midfield are other familiar names to English households. Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera have both played for Arsenal under Arsene Wenger and both proved their worth. Unfortunately both are very attack orientated and not prepared to track back. This cost the defence heavily. The real superstar is Zinedine Zidane but he is currently injured and being saved for later games (if they ever happen)
Up front they are truly faultless with some of the most deadly strikers around. Tierry Henry from Arsenal along with his striking partner Silvain Wiltord are 2 of the best in the world and used to playing together week in, week out. David Trezeguet and Yuri Djorkaeff are 2 more potent attackers with an eye for goal.
Manager Roger Lamerre seems to understand the international game yet fails to field a team with any fire in their bellies. I can see a draw against Uruguay today if not a narrow loss. Look to the French for either a very early exit or a tough 2nd round draw.