Guardian, Tuesday, June 10, 2008 1:45 PM
The spectacle of the Netherlands against Italy helped most soccer fans forget the dire 0-0 draw between France and Romania that preceded it. It also meant the question of what was wrong with the
lackluster French was either avoided or overlooked. According to Paul Doyle, the Romanians played for the single point by stifling Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema, but the French made it easy for
them because the World Cup runners-up were "subdued and uncertain."
The French backline refused to probe forward or carry the ball out of defense, forcing the midfield to come back
and collect it. Coach Raymond Domenech, "not the brightest of French visionaries," could have done more to lift his team. His more positive approach in the second half, as well as some attacking
substitutions, were not enough to penetrate the opponents.
Doyle writes that the failure was largely down to this being France's first post-Zidane tournament, and the first time it
has not used a playmaker. "They did not achieve the tempo and cohesion that would make their new style work. [Samir] Nasri may be raw but his creative capacity could have helped make the link. The
other thing that will help is time. But with Holland and Italy coming up, France don't have much of that."
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