Saturday, June 26, 2004
  Two out of three ain't bad
It really didn't give me much pleasure to see the French go out.

But then the French team didn't give me much pleasure in the tournament either.

I've admired France since the first round of the World Cup in 1998. There has been something easy to enjoy, hard to resent, about their success since then. Their players inspire a real affection and respect that I think is shared my many English fans.

But they just haven't done it in Portugal. That extra drive, that feeling that your status is not a God-given birthright but something precarious, something that has to be defended and demonstrated every time you go out onto the pitch... well, the French were bereft of that.

As Philip says, you have to feel for Zidane, whose eccentric deployment in a midfield that, Vieiria apart, conspicuously underperformed, meant that he was reduced to fetching and carrying where he should have been shimmying and sashaying. In interviews, Henry seemed somewhat bemused that opposition defences weren't supinely falling at his feet, parting like the red sea in front of Moses - they're not letting me score, seemed to be his odd complaint.

The Greeks, then, go on as worthy winners.

We must hope now that Sweden can see off the petulant, sullen and graceless Dutch (yes, Advocaat made a gross error in the game against the Czechs, but the Czechs were clearly the better side any way, even with Robben on the field, and there simply is no excuse for the disloyal and churlish way that the Holland squad has treated their coach).

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