Friday, June 18, 2010

Down we go

How bad did France do against Mexico today? So bad that by the end, the bartenders at the Irish pub where I was watching and my Italian neighbor were feeling sorry for me.

I had gone to a new pub — that's the thing about working in Midtown, lots of Irish pubs — and was enjoying a nice panini at the bar, and then those cretinous Bleus had to come and ruin my lunch! It's now several hours later and I still can't believe what happened today. Mexico did what it had to do with great spirit, and France just collapsed. It was worse than bad: It was mortifying.

We started okay, then in the second half everything went down the gurgler, as the Sheila says: no team spirit, no cohesion, stupid dribbling, aimless passes, constant fumbling. These guys play in some of the biggest European clubs and it was as if they had completely lost their technical skills. France got something like 7 or 8 free kicks and I stopped counting how many times they shot into the wall. Same for corners sailing wide or high. Just pathetic.

The French press is, of course, full of various theories about the vile mood within the team, in which there apparently are several warring factions. One of the most interesting theories is that valuable offensive midfielder Yoann Gourcuff has been ostracized by several of his teammates because he's mild-mannered, well-spoken and (implied) white. So those teammates have ganged up against Gourcuff and gained influence over coach Domenech, so much so that Gourcuff didn't play today. We ended up in a situation where Domenech kept Henry and Gourcuff on the bench but started the horrible Anelka and Govou, then brought in Valbuena and Gignac. Seriously: WTF???

Back to the factions. According to Le Monde, some of the faultlines also fall along whether the players are in French clubs or outside of France. Others depend on whether the players have roots in Africa or the French West Indies, the Maghreb or metropolitan France. Others are blunt: They depend on whether the player is black or white. No matter what, it's a nest of vipers in there. You'd think they'd overcome their petty rivalries because, you know, it's the fricking World Cup but no — today, they played like asses.

At this point, part of me hopes South Africa will finally get a win and France goes home early. That way I can relax and start rooting for, oh, I don't know, the Netherlands, Argentina or Germany. Yes, Germany! (Anybody but Brazil or Italy, really.)

Domenech was scheduled to leave at the end of the World Cup anyway, and coach-in-waiting Laurent Blanc played in the team that won the WC in 1998. Hopefully he'll clean house.

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