Monday, June 21, 2004
Take away the first and last 10 minutes, and you have an extremely disappointing, worrying and demoralising game from France. Lazy, even, letting Switzerland play and show a shocking lack of aggressivity. When the (French TV) commentator said that "This isn't the triumphant France we're seeing," he hinted at a point France seems to have had its head in the sand about for over 2 years now. "Triumphant France" hasn't been seen for 4 years now. 2002's performance was so shocking (apart for those who actually paid attention to the 3 friendlies prior to the competition) that it seemed like a fluke, something that could be ignored. Maybe I'm over-reacting (and I didn't see the game against Croatia), but there is little doubt in my mind that the French "reign" is over.

I saw no progress whatsoever since the England game. The team played mostly like it was awaiting an easy way out. Take Robert Pirès's excellent game, to largely indifferent support. Take the salvatory goals: Saha comes in and deviates a long pass into Henry's path; Henry makes one of his characteristic runs and finishes beautifully. Otherwise, there was little offensive movement, little in the way of real work, ie. winning the ball in mid-field. Complacency is, to me, the only explanation for a steady-as-clockwork Swiss team nearly running circles around the French defence.

Trézéguet has been fairly ineffective throughout the tournament, but Saha's entrance seemed to liberate Henry. Hopefully Saha will get to come in earlier in the next game.

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