Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Euro 2008 Team Profiles: France (UPDATE!)

As the resident Frenchman here at UF, I naturally took it upon myself to conduct the Euro 2008 preview for the French national team. This was mostly to avoid the barrage of jokes sure to be present had anyone else been allowed to write this preview. But also because I have an unnatural man-love for Gael Clichy.

UPDATE: After cutting down his roster on May 18th, Domenech has finally revealed the final roster for the Euro 2008 team. Look after the jump to see how many I got correct.

France enters the Euro 2008 competition 7th in the current FIFA rankings, having barely qualified for the competition by 2 points over Scotland (to whom they lost twice in qualifying - apparently we fear kilts). Les Bleus are the only national team besides Germany to have won more than one European Championship, winning in 1984 (when the competition was held in France), and again in 2000 (beating Italy in the finals in the Netherlands).

In Euro 2008 France was placed in Group C with Romania (game on 6/9), the Netherlands (game on 6/13), and Italy (game on 6/17). France drew 0-0 with the latter in qualifying, after beating them 3-1 in an earlier qualifying match.

Although he has publicly stated that he will not name his team until May 18, it is expected that coach Raymond Domenech will bring the following players to Euro 2008:

(GK) Gregory Coupet; Mickael Landreau

(DEF) Willy Sagnol; Lillian Thuram; William Gallas; Eric Abidal; Gael Clichy;
Phillipe Mexes; Patrice Evra

(MID) Patrick Vieira; Claude Makelele; Franck Ribery; Florent Malouda; Samir Nasri;
Hatem Ben Arfa; Jerome Rothen; Alou Diarra

(ST) Thierry Henry; Nicolas Anelka; Karim Benzema; Sidney Govou

UPDATE: The actual squad (my picks in bold) chosen by Domenech is:

(GK) Gregory Coupet (Lyon); Sebastien Frey (Fiorentina); Mandanda (Marseille)

(DEF) Willy Sagnol (Bayern Munich); Lillian Thuram (Barcelona); William Gallas (Arsenal); Eric Abidal (Barcelona); Patrice Evra (Manchester United);
Jean-Alain Boumsong (Lyon); Francois Clerc (Lyon); Sebastien Squillaci (Lyon)

(MID) Patrick Vieira (Inter Milan); Claude Makelele (Chelsea); Jeremy Toulalan (Lyon); Lassana Diarra (Portsmouth); Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich); Florent Malouda (Chelsea); Samir Nasri (Marseille)

(ST) Sidney Govou (Lyon); Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea); Thierry Henry (Barcelona);Karim Benzema (Lyon); Bafetimbi Gomis (Saint-Etienne)

If you're keeping score at home (and I know you are), that's 15 out of 23 correct, for a 65% accuracy rating. While I am not surprised by the exclusion of Mickael Landrau, given that PSG was on the verge of relegation this year, I am somewhat befuddled by the choices of: (1) Boumsong over Clichy (did I mention I have a man-crush on him?); (2) Diarra over either Flamini or ben Arfa; and (3) Gomis over Djibril Cisse, although Gomis was the first player since Zizou to score a brace in his international opener (against Ecuador yesterday).

And now for the important questions:

(1) Could England beat this team? Don't be ridiculous! The last 3 meetings between France and England have resulted in France 1 - England 1 (international friendly), France 2 - England 1 (Euro 2004), and France 1 - England 0 (international friendly).

(2) Can they win Euro 2008? Of course they can! Ladbrokes currently has France at 9-1 odds to win the competition.

(3) What is their pre-made excuse for not winning Euro 2008? Youth and age? This is our first international competition in over a decade without Zizou? We didn't feel like it?

(4) What is their biggest question mark? The chances of this team revolve around whether the wily veterans such as Gallas, Vieira, and Henry can merge well with the youth movement of Ribery, Ben Arfa, Nasri, and Benzema. While the youngsters have begun to make a name for themselves in their domestic league (and in Germany in the case of Ribery), Euro 2008 represents their best opportunity to date to burst onto the international scene. Nasri, in particular, needs to have a good tournament in order to avoid falling into the shadow of the other 3.

(5) Who is their worst player? What are you talking about? They are all brilliant players! Alright, it's Willy Sagnol. Although he has been a defensive stalwart in the past, his current age and lack of speed can be easily exposed against even middling international competition. Plus, he still rocks a porn-stache.


Mike Georger said...

cisse weeps while he beats the fuck out of some kid

Lingering Bursitis said...

les bleus n'ont pas un chance

The NY Kid said...

@Mike - Djibril Cisse makes van Persie look positively rock-like, health-wise, and he thinks that Eduardo should just suck it up.

@JB - Ou est l'Angleterre?

TIET said...

I, for one, would like to hear more about this 'unnatural' man-love you've got for Clichy.

I still wish Scotland had gotten through.

JT said...

The biggest question mark is your weird fucking manager.

Domenech est cuckoo

The Fan's Attic said...

can somebody tell me why Bacary Sagna is not on the squad? that guy was a beast for Arsenal this year and once he went down the defense really went to pieces.

Goat said...

Il y a un poisson dans votre bibliotheque.

Keith said...

No Sagna and no Trezegol= no chance

The NY Kid said...

I would definitely prefer Sagna to Sagnol (who is 87 years old) or Squillaci (who is too quasi-Italian). But no one ever accused Domenech of making rational decisions. Trezeguet should probably still be on the squad but Domenech hates him and will never let him play.

The NY Kid said...

@goat - don't be silly, I don't have any fish.

TIET said...

What is Sagna a scorpio or something?