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France's Staggering Failure
L'Equipe Online, June 18th, 2008 2:45PM

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France was unable to surmount the three major setbacks in its final Group C game against Italy Tuesday, writes Cedric Rouquette at lequipe.fr. The 10th-minute injury to Franck Ribery, the red card to Eric Abidal, and the deflected shot for Italy's second goal all reflected "a sort of inevitability that designated them losers at this tournament."
 
The changes that Coach Raymond Domenech made for the showdown did not yield the expected results. "[Karim] Benzema made a lot of difference, but he couldn't do everything, [Francois] Clerc could not cross the ball any better than [Willy] Sagnol, and Abidal didn't finish the game. Eliminated from the first round of the European Championship since 1992, and from a major tournament for the first time since the fiasco of 2002, the French team will have to digest a staggering failure, and Raymond Domenech will have to weather myriad storms in order to keep his job."
 
The French team managed to convince for just 65 of the 270 minutes they played. "40 against Holland, and 25 against Italy, up until the 1-0 [deficit]. The defense, supposedly its strength, went to pieces [six goals in the last two games]. Its envious attacking potential ... suffered from a considerable deficit in inspiration and tenacity in the final 30 yards of the field."

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