Posts Tagged ‘france’
Following the suspension of the entire French World Cup squad, here’s an exclusive look at Laurent Blanc’s first French team for their upcoming friendly with Norway:
Goalkeeper: Fabien Barthez. Selected so the coach can snog his head.
Left-back: Serge Blanco. Possibly the best full-back of all-time.
Centre-back: Louis Bleriot. Ahead of his time, great in the air.
Centre-back: Inspector Clouseau. Suspect defender, most known for comedic calamities. Bit like a French Titus Bramble.
Right-back: Napoleon Bonaparte. Pocket battleship of a full-back, very ambitious in attack. Never properly recovered from an unsuccessful spell in Russia.
Left-wing: David Ginola. Fairytale return for the man ostracized from the national team for overhitting a cross. If nothing else, will have the best hair in the side.
Centre-midfield: Claude Monet. Creative midfielder whose talent lies in short imaginitive passing.
Centre-midfield: Joan of Arc. Combative and determined. Plays with the conviction that God is on her side. He’s watching from the hospitality boxes.
Right-wing: Nicolas Sarkozy. Controversial choice, only marginally more popular than the World Cup squad.
Forward: Asterix. Diminutive but powerful player, happiest playing in the hole behind a larger striker. Terrific record against the Italians. Added bonus that magic potion is not on FIFA’s list of banned substances.
Forward: Gerard Depardieu. Big lump.
Bonne chance, chaps.
South Africa have employed a choreographer to create a bespoke celebration if they score. This makes me want them to score no goals. But it probably wouldn’t do for the hosts to shuffle off early. Their job is to ensure that the party gets off to a jolly start to then bow out somewhere around the second round before anyone can accuse them of only succeeding due to home advantage. And to hand out the cheese straws and make sure that everybody has enough red wine.
France won the World Cup in their own country in 1998. Since then they have specialized in a sort of durable incompetence with a dark side. They’re the new Germany. Have largely survived a series of bizarre challenges set by their eccentric manager in the build-up. It’s been a feast of hilarious obstacles designed to wheedle out the more fragile members of the squad (that’s you Lassana Diarra), and it seems to have been influenced by Takeshi’s Castle, or Takeshi’s Chateau as they call it in France. Rumours that they will be swimming up crocodile-infested waters in giant sumo outfits to enter South Africa remain unsubstantiated.
Mexico always seem to make it to the finals. That’s possibly because Concacaf is the qualifying region that all the other regions laugh at. Looked sprightly and fresh-faced in their recent fixture against England with the honourable exception of Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who trotted around the Wembley pitch with the lumpen intensity of a washed-up TV chef in a celebrity game. Seem to have played a friendly every day this week.
Uruguay are appearing at the World Cup for the first time since 2002. Then they didn’t do very much apart from help knock out France. Would probably be satisfied just to repeat the trick this time round. Have won two World Cups, but I never hear any Uruguayans wanking on about it. That’s probably because I don’t know any Uruguayans.
My memories of the ’86 tournament are sketchy at best. So this could be brief. I was living on a housing estate in Suffolk at the time, and most of my more vivid recollections are of playing British bulldog with an albino called Graham. As they would be. My retention has also been corroded by the trauma of a prolonged period of bed-wetting which had been precipitated by an unfortunate incident with a plastic tractor and an old woman with a mechanical larynx that made her sound like a Dalek’s aunt.
I found comfort in the pages of my Panini and a preview magazine featuring optimistic articles about English prospects in the competition. Any hope of victory seemed to have been expunged after the first two games against Portugal and Morocco, picking only one point and failing to score in either. Not that I saw any of England’s group matches, the time difference from Mexico meant that I’d long since gone upstairs to urinate on my bed linen.
My only companion on the estate was a Canadian emigre called Tom. Happily, for the sake of playground banter, his national side were even worse than mine, contriving to lose every game they played. Including to France, who I was rapidly developing a minor obsession with and their direct, fluid and above all foreign style of play. And their matches kicked off at a decent hour. I followed them all the way to the semi-final where they disappeared from the tournament and off the face of the footballing earth before sheepishly resurfacing in Euro ’96.
I had little interest in the other home nations. Northern Ireland departed without me even realising they were there in the first place. Scotland’s continued failure to reach the knock-out stages created an amusing subplot. They took the lead against the West Germans. Gordon Strachan’s oddly sensuous attempt to mount the advertising hoarding in celebration will remain with me forever. They then snubbed a lovely opportunity to progress by drawing with an absurdly savage Uruguayan side that were down to ten men inside two minutes. The group was won at pace by Denmark, another team to catch my admiring glance with their weird continental play.
I was certain the Danes were going to win the tournament. And then they got pummeled 5-1 by Spain in the second round. World Cup football is not like normal football.
England were accelerating and in the process creating the blueprint for latter World Cup performances. Founder against the minnows, excel against their betters, before taking their leave in epic style against some dark force of international football, in this case the evil Argies. I still maintain that Maradona’s second goal is actually an own goal by Terry Butcher. And as for his first, I had to ask my Dad after next morning’s headlines whether it had indeed been scored by the ‘Hand of God’. I was much more theologically open-minded in those days.
England’s defeat brought about a degeneration in my bed-wetting. My Mum had to take me to the doctors and they gave me a machine. It was a bit like a smoke alarm but for piss. Unfamiliar with the essence of the NHS, I questioned my Mum who the contraption belonged to. She replied Margaret Thatcher. I felt a bit bad. She probably needed it herself.
Together with an incentive scheme involving Toblerones the machine seemed to do the trick. I’ve been dry for about eight years now.
As for the tournament, the bastard Argentines went on to win. I remember the final, and the utter puzzlement when a player called Brown scored to put Argentina in the lead. World Cup football was confusing. Brilliant, but confusing.
Putting it mildly Roy Keane isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. In fact, for Ipswich fans brought up on decent-minded managers like Bobby Robson and John Lyall, he’s more like a cup of sick. But at least you know where you stand with Roy, he couldn’t be more transparent if he was made of clingfilm.
During this week’s hilarious press conference at Portman Road, Keane put forward his forthright views on the Henry handball controversy. Given his previous disagreements with the FAI, he may as well have brought in a large axe, slipped on a little bit of R Kelly, and set about it grinding it in the most energetic way possible.
But he does make a valid point about the incident which lead to the Irish winning a vital qualifying game against Georgia at Croke Park in February. Check it out for yourselves below. It would have only been slightly more bizarre if the referee had awarded Ireland the Nobel Prize for Physics than this penalty.
Seems that these days that everybody is a singing judge. The South African rugger board has received an official apology from the French for this slightly wonky rendition of their national anthem by reggae artist Ras Dumisani.
Firstly, get over it. It’s just a song. Secondly Dumisani is South African so really you should be demanding an apology from yourselves. And finally, listen to your own team. They’re hardly Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I don’t remember Schalk Burger featuring on Paul Simon’s Graceland.
Dumisani is gaining the usual cultish following on Youtube. Word is that for his next trick he’ll be laying down a two-step beat and bodypopping his way through the Haka.