It didn’t happen in the twentieth century and it hasn’t yet in the twenty-first. That’s right, France has shrank from European competition again. Not since the Hundred Years War (which was either 116 or 81 years long depending on how one looks at it) has France had a major victory on European soil. Er, don’t fact-check that.
In recent history, France has graciously stepped aside and allowed others to fight in France itself in World War I and II, Vietnam, and Iraq. Now, in 2008, the French soccer team has graciously stepped aside for, well, basically everyone they played.
Les Bleus, who were in the World Cup Final just two years ago, played in Group C in Euro 2008. I guess “played” is a bit of a strong word. But, hey, they get the “participant” trophy like in Little League, right? First, they drew with Romania 0-0, then proceeded to lose 4-1 to the Netherlands and 2-0 to Italy. To recap: the French showed up, were promptly outscored 6-1 in three games, and received exactly one group-stage point. Some headbutts, you don’t recover from.
Oh, I’m not done.
They also managed to lose their best facilitator, Franck Ribery, to a possibly serious injury ten minutes in against Italy, not that it matters now since they’re out of the tournament. And, two national team staples, Lilian Thuram (heh, Lilian) and Claude Makelele, retired from international competition after one final humiliating defeat.
The French do have several young players such as (the possibly over-hyped) Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri, and the non-clutch Nicolas Anelka to pair with old warhorses Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry which will help keep the team fresh as it moves forward from Euro 2008, so things aren’t a total disaster. Wait, yes they are. Look at this freaking roster. There’s no reason for this team to go winless, even if they were in one of the toughest groups imaginable. It’s US Soccer in the 1998 World Cup bad. I guess that’s a little harsh, even for France. More like 2006.
But what did you expect in the way of karma for the same team that left Eric Cantona (the official striker of Rumors and Rants) off the Euro ’96 squad?
Apropos of nothing, here’s our favorite soccer commercial ever. Possibly our favorite commercial period. Au revoir.