Vinay Kumar/New Delhi
Many criticised France for their disastrous campaign in the 2010 where they bowed out from the group stage. The Les Blues had not only left their fans scarred by their acrimonious exit, the player-coach tussle and the fracas that ensued, also had a severe impact on the players who have the incident etched in their memories even after four years. They failed to even reach the round of 16. But it was not for the first time.
For all of those who have seen France in their prime from 1998 till 2001 will agree that the Hugo Lloris-led side will start as one of the favourites to lift the Cup. The pressure of being the favourites from their group may have a negative effect on France when they kick-start their campaign on June 15 against Honduras.
The team struggled in the qualifiers; beaten by Japan, Spain and Brazil they had to face Ukraine in the play-offs. After losing the first leg 0-2, France bounced back to win the second leg 3-0 and qualified for the World Cup in Brazil. Coach Didier Deschamps used all his collective experience to select France’s 23-man squad for the World Cup, and he may have just got it right like when he decided to use the 4-3-3 formation to help France qualify for Brazil. The Les Blues struck gold when they were placed in Group E alongside Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras, which may not pose a challenge to France.
France has a habit of struggling in the group stages but given their opponents this time, they are likely to qualify for the knock-out stage and finish at the top of the group to avoid a clash with Argentina in the round of 16. But the opponents can surprise France as Ecuador has the backing of the South American crowd and Honduras will play France for the first time. That leaves Switzerland, which managed to draw the game against France on the last three occasions, to capitalise on their record and push for the top spot. Even if France does that, they are most likely to face Germany in the round of 16 which will do no good to them.
Playing as a team will be key to success in Brasil for France, especially, after what happened in 2010. Deschamps after selecting the squad said that they may not be the most talented players but they are the best he could pick. Surely he was talking about the player’s behavior and conduct, both on and off the field. He also picked the squad best suited for the 4-3-3 formation. Franck Ribery’s injury could not have come at a worst time but many saw it coming.
This World Cup will put Deschamps’ tactics and his techniques to continued…