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World Cup 2010 Review: France

The French World Cup challenge failed to materialise in South Africa, the team returning home disgraced and beaten into fourth place in Group A with in-fighting between the players, coach and federation wrecking their campaign from day one.

Having qualified in controversial style, thanks to Thierry Henry’s handball in their play off game against Ireland, Les Bleus failed to make the most of their place in the finals. The first game, a 0-0 draw with Uruguay was a decent enough result on paper, but it was a good as things got for the French. They failed to build on that point and lost 2-0 to Mexico six days later in a game that saw striker Nicolas Anelka substituted at half time after a row with coach Raymond Domenech. The Chelsea striker was sent home in disgrace for his comments and the team never recovered from the shock.

The rest of the squad, lead by captain Patrice Evra, refused to train in one of the sessions following that match and the divisions between the coach and his players became all too apparent. Domenech has never been popular with the French public and with hindsight he should have been replaced long before the finals. Especially seeing as it was already known that he would be leaving immediately after the finals to be replaced by Bordeaux’s Laurent Blanc. He had no working relationship with his players.

The third and final game was the team’s worst performance. They had to beat South Africa by several goals to be in with a chance of progressing but they found themselves two down at half time and in disarray, with Gourcuff having been sent off. With more clinical finishing, the South Africans could have scored several more. However, France did manage to stem the tide and grab a consolation goal in the second half, but by then most of the french fans were simply glad that the whole sorry episode was coming to an end. They finished bottom of Group A with only one point and most of the players had totally lost the respect of their fans through their appalling behaviour and attitude on and off the pitch.

At least there will be a fresh start with a new manager and a clean break from this regime. Domenech won’t be remembered fondly in France, and the abiding memory will be of him refusing to shake hands with South Africa manager Carlos Alberto Parreira after the final whistle of their final game. Petty to the last, Domenech bowed out of international football management. However, many of the same players will still be involved when the team start their Euro 2012 qualifiers and they will have to work hard to win back the fans.

The French squad submitted to FIFA was as follows:

NUMBER – POSITION – NAME – AGE- CLUB

1 – GK – Hugo LLORIS – 23 – Lyon
16 – GK – Steve MANDANDA – 25 – Marseille
23 – GK – Cedric CARRASSO – 28 – Bordeaux
2 – DF – Bakari SAGNA – 27 – Arsenal
3 – DF – Eric ABIDAL – 30 – Barcelona
4 – DF – Anthony REVEILLERE – 30 – Lyon
5 – DF – William GALLAS – 32 – Arsenal
6 – DF – Marc PLANUS – 28 – Bordeaux
13 – DF – Patrice EVRA – 29 – Manchester United
17 – DF – Sebastien SQUILLACI – 29 – Sevilla FC
22 – DF – Gael CLICHY – 24 – Arsenal
8 – MF – Yoann GOURCUFF – 23 – Bordeaux
14 – MF – Jeremy TOULALAN – 26 – Lyon
15 – MF – Florent MALOUDA – 29 – Chelsea
18 – MF – Alou DIARRA – 28 – Bordeaux
19 – MF – Abou DIABY – 24 – Arsenal
7 – FW – Franck RIBERY – 27 – Bayern Munich
9 – FW – Djibril CISSE – 28 – Panathinaikos
10 – FW – Sidney GOVOU – 30 – Lyon
11 – FW – Andre Pierre GIGNAC – 24 – Toulouse
12 – FW – Thierry HENRY – 32 – Barcelona
20 – FW – Mathieu VALBUENA – 25 – Marseille
21 – FW – Nicolas ANELKA – 31 – Chelsea

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