Pragmatic, energetic, lethal bursts on counter and that’s despite having what many are calling the greatest talent pool in the world. So good that their U21 side could play the Euros and still win despite the fact that they lost in the quarter-finals of the U21 Euros. So, here’s why France sucks.
Your team: France (Euro record: DNQ five times, won it once, finished second once, third once, qualified for every tournament since 1992)
Record since Euro 2016: 43 wins, 10 draws, 6 losses
43 wins, which means that no other side has come close to winning as many games as France have managed since they were humiliated by Portugal at the 2016 final. They should have won it, you know that, I know that, they know that and hell, some may say even Portugal know that. It was their tournament, their chance to establish a legacy like Spain or that 1998 French squad managed and they screwed it up. But then they responded, won the 2018 World Cup on a canter but even that doesn’t count because did you see the teams they beat along the way?
Australia, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Croatia, all minnows with the exception of Belgium who apparently brought their golden generation to the tournament. And yet, despite all that, Les Blues’ drew against Denmark, against Denmark in their final group game which is besides the point ad yet the point altogether. Because when the pressure is on, when the world needs them to win and expects them to win, France collapses like a house of cards.
Think of their 2-0 loss to Turkey, 2-0 loss to the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League, a 3-2 to Colombia, a 2-1 to Sweden and a 2-0 to Spain. Not great when you consider that all five sides are pretty good ones and teams that you’d expect to give France a test and yet, they crumbled. The one loss, a 2-0 to Finland, is the one you can forgive because of the second string squad. Even then with Paul Pogba, Marcus Thuram, Wissem Ben Yedder, Olivier Giroud, Lucas Digne, and co on the field, that’s terrible.
But the point remains, when the heat is on, France drop the ball. They nearly managed it once or twice or thrice at the 2018 World Cup but somehow scraped through. Still, think 2002 World Cup or the 2010, both spectacular failures, especially the 2010, but then again nobody would blame them when you’ve got fruit-loop Raymond Domenech as your coach!! The man who dropped, picked his team, the training camp, his wife, his children, his house, his cars, the World Cup starting eleven, and even how he washed his dishes based on astrology. And if you look at it, this group has already started coming apart at the seams if Olivier Giroud’s comments recently are anything to go by.
The man leading the charge: Didier Deschamps
Marcel Desailly, in a column for the Guardian after France won the World Cup, lavished Didier Deschamps with so much praise, that little kids all around were no longer spoilt. He compared Deschamps to Amie Jacquet, the coach of the 1998 World Cup winning French side, and it makes sense because the comparisons were there to be made. Both dropped their best forwards, Eric Cantona for Jacquet and Karim Benzema for Deschamps, and both played more pragmatic football.
Yet, Jacquet left after the ’98 World Cup ended and handed the reigns to someone else to move forward, which in hindsight made sense because the team was declining. Sure, they won the Euros two years later but that’s semantics because the team was declining. Deschamps, on the other hand, still has the arrogance and humility to keep going and for some absurd reason decided to bring back the Benz.
Why? We have absolutely no clue especially when reports, from reputed and sources close to the man, revealed that he absolutely disliked everything that Karim Benzema stood for. Well that and his alleged involvement in a sex-tape blackmail case, which Benzema denies, but one long-talk later and the problem has apparently been solved. That brings about another question, why didn’t all that happen before? Like during the World Cup or anytime between 2015 and now?
Questions, questions and questions because when you bring in someone that volatile into the squad, it could very well destroy the humility and harmony that Desailly harped on about in his column. Unless, that was his plan all along? False hope because turning into Raymond Domenech part deux!!
Olivier Giroud: He made his debut in 2011. Just let that sink in before we get to talking, Olivier Giroud made his debut for France in 2011 when he was *checks math* 24 years old. Karim Benzema was 20, Antoine Griezmann was 23, Ousmane Dembele was 19, Kingsley Coman was 18, Paul Pogba was 20 and let’s not even talk about Kylian Mbappe. A late bloomer is understandable, but this is Olivier Giroud we’re talking about, the man who convincingly lead Arsenal’s title charges down the drain every season without fail.
And yet, Arsene Wenger once called him the best striker in the world for some reason. That’s been Giroud, an incredibly divisive figure at his worst, best and bang average because of everything he does. He’s the French Peter Crouch but the only difference is the fact that Crouch never got close to Sir Bobby Charlton’s, now Wayne Rooney’s, record for England. Giroud is five within France’s all-time record scorer Thierry Henry. How or why? Nobody knows and yet that's Giroud for you.
Kylian Mbappe: Really? You want me to hate on the wunderkid, the superkid, Mr Majestic, kid supreme, Lord Kylian, the heir to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s throne? That guy, you want me to hate on that guy?? I have no grounds to hate on him because this dude is quite literally the best player on the planet going into the Euros. Sure he didn’t win anything noteworthy with PSG this season and got knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals, but still. This is Kylian Mbappe, the bright, charismatic and likable prince of football, in France and the world alike.
Antoine Griezmann: Now here’s a man you can hate on all day and all night and his move to Barcelona will only have little bit to do about that. Griezmann has tried his very best to stay young but age and a receding hairline has consistently told him otherwise and yet, he refuses to listen. This is a man who, over the last few years, has become more famous for his antics off the field rather than the stuff he does on it because don’t get me wrong, Griezmann is a superb footballer, on his day.
The problem is that his day might have come and gone/ended with the 2018 World Cup which was where ol Antoine was at his very best. Not the Barcelona best but at his Atletico Madrid, El Cholo trained to destroy, demolish and plunder teams best and he was good to watch. Since then, he painted himself black for a party, released a video about his decision to stay at Atletico Madrid, then decided to leave a year later, dragged on a move that could have ended so much earlier, and released a video called La Decision, about his decision to stay or go.
Oh, I mentioned that already? Well, the man was captured looking pensive on a horse as he tried to make a decision over where should he stay or should he go, so a second mention is needed.
What’s new that sucks:
The hype over the return of Karim Benzema because it isn’t needed. We all know how good Benzema is, how he’s effectively the only good thing left at the Santiago Bernabeu and yes that’s a list that includes their stadium. But does he offer more than what Olivier Giroud could and by bringing him into the mix, has Didier Deschamps sold his soul for something more? A rap tape by Benzema or Griezmann maybe? Or is it for something more worthwhile, like his last dance?
These are answers to questions that we may never get and yet, answers we need because we have nothing else to do otherwise but to speculate and assume. Which while as fun as that is, the real thing could be even better. Like what if Benzema has blackmailed Deschamps into giving him what could be his final chance at a major tournament for France? Woah, that’s big.
What’s old that sucks:
The rumours about a potential rift in the squad after Olivier Giroud’s presser with Kylian Mbappe apparently “itching” to respond via his own presser. Overly dramatic much? And besides, you guys already used the rift in the squad at the 2010 World Cup, so maybe try something different? Like fire your head coach days before everything starts or lose your best player to an injury….in training? Like try something new and stop plagiarising things. I get that original content is hard to produce but still.
What might give you some hope:
Seriously? You need me to tell you, fans of France, what might give you some hope? Seriously?