Will France be chanting Allez les Bleus again soon?

by Ben McAleer

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

The 2010 World Cup must be one to forget for the French national team. With unrest rife throughout the camp, the team slumped to a bottom of the group finish with one point and one goal scored. The all-too-familiar strike by the French didn’t help matters as they refused to train following Chelsea striker Nicholas Anelka’s much publicised falling out with, then manager, star sign enthusiast Raymond Domenech. With Manchester United left back Patrice Evra leading the revolt against Domenech and the rest of the coaching staff; it appeared, in the short term, the French national team were going to suffer severely.

Following the disastrous showing in South Africa the French Football Federation (FFF) acted swiftly to remove Domenech from his position as manager to quickly install former World Cup winner and ex-Bordeaux manager Laurent Blanc as the man to bring glory back to France. His first act as new manager was to ban the entire 23-man squad that took part in the dismal display in South Africa for the first friendly away to Norway (which subsequently ended 2-1 to Norway) with Anelka and Evra set to serve longer bans (eighteen and five games, respectively).

Blanc’s managerial career on the national stage began badly with the, previously mentioned, 2-1 defeat to Norway in August followed up with a home 1-0 loss in the Euro 2012 Qualification stage to International minnows Belarus at the Stade de France. However, results have been more positive as of late with victories over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania and Luxembourg leaving France with three wins out of four and only one goal conceded leaving them with a great chance of qualifying as winners.

Let’s be honest, a tournament without the former World Cup Champions wouldn’t be the same. They are a major competition regular and their heroics of 1998 and 2000 coupled with their 2006 showing should surely justify their inclusion as one of the early favourites for the 2012 Euro’s (should they qualify, of course). The talent is definitely there with the likes of Hugo Lloris of Lyon (at only 23 years old, must surely be considered France’s Number 1 for years to come), Roma centre-back Philippe Mexes, Real Madrid pair Lassana Diarra and Karim Benzema, Premiership regulars Florent Malouda, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Abou Diaby with Ligue 1 regulars Yoann Gourcuff and Loic Remy both having massive roles to play in the current set-up.

In my opinion, these players have the ability to replicate the heroics of the 1998 World Cup winners. Granted, they aren’t of the calibre of Zinedine Zidane, Bixente Lizarazu (one of the best full-backs in my time of watching football), Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly or current coach Laurent Blanc but, as I mentioned, the talent is there for them to succeed. Next up for Blanc is a trip to Wembley for a friendly against Fabio Capello’s England in eleven days time to see out 2010. Perhaps England vs. France doesn’t spark up the excitement that it, maybe, once would in the past but this is still an enticing fixture nonetheless.

So, with 2010 drawing to a close on the International stage, Blanc must be looking forward to 2011 to help improve France’s fortunes on the pitch and place a bookmark in the history of French football by taking major steps to aiding their Euro 2012 cause.

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