Euro 2012 Preview of France
After an era of unmitigated success that saw France win a World and European Cup, expectations for Le Bleu have cooled considerably. They are 10/1 with most bookies to lift the Euro 2012 trophy.
A golden era in French football was followed by a disastrous one, headed by the eccentric coach Raymond Domenech. Domenech once used a post loss press conference to propose to his girlfriend. If that isn’t eccentric God knows what is.
Sanity has returned in the form of Laurent Blanc. The great midfielder who was part of the glorious team that lifted the World Cup in the greatest day in French soccer history. Blanc has been charged with putting the pieces back together after a disastrous 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in which the team mutinied against Domenech.
Blanc is undefeated in his last 18 games in charge of Le Bleu. So far so good then. Euro 2008 and the last World Cup were disasters for the French. Under Blanc it looks less likely that the
y will again collapse into back-biting and disarray.
Casting an eye over the current French national side does not inspire as it once did. A team that oozed with talent - and mental frailty - has been replaced by a team with more grit and hard work than previous incarnations. If less glamour.
But they still have stars. Samir Nasri has impressed in the light blue of Manchester City - at times - but not the darker blue of his national team. If he is to take the next step into true global stardom he needs a big tournament.
Speaking of big tournament men. Franck Ribery is coming off a season in which he was unlucky with silverware but still impressed as a tricky and creative player who can create goals from absolutely nothing. When the French have there backs against the wall and need a quick goal; they will look to him.
Less flighty, less fragile, but less talented. Laurent Blanc’s new France are flying under the radar. They may surprise a watching Europe in Poland and Ukraine.
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