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Why are France struggling so much in their World Cup qualifying campaign ?
Such a team should not have had any problems against Austria, Serbia or Romania, the three teams they’ve met so far. Yet, they only have four points and it could have been worse, as it seemed Les Bleus were in for a spanking in Romania in their last game as they were trailing 2-0 after 15 minutes.
That was until Yoann Gourcuff netted with the kind of shot you see in the Bundesliga every weekend but that we have not seen here in France since Franck Sauzee in the 1990s: a 30-metre drive that went under the bar and put France back on track.
It looked like in this match, which ended in a 2-2 draw, Raymond Domenech’s side realised they were not a defensive team any more.
France built their 1998 World Cup triumph on a rock-solid defence, often playing with three defensive midfielders. They now don’t have a Didier Deschamps or Emmanuel Petit to do the dirty job. Patrick Vieira could do it, but he is starting to look his age.
It’s not totally confirmed yet but it looks like David Beckham is joining AC Milan on a short-term loan deal.
The LA Galaxy midfielder, desperate to keep his fitness up and impress England coach Fabio Capello during the U.S. close season, is taking a big risk in coming to Italy.
Fabio Capello showed his worth with some inspired selections and substitutions in England’s 5-1 win over Kazakhstan and 3-1 victory in Belarus in World Cup qualifying.
With Joe Cole injured, Capello managed to fashion a way for Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to play with each other while the introduction of Shaun Wright-Phillips helped on both occasions.
We should also not forget evergreen Giovanni Trapattoni, whose modest yet undefeated Ireland side are just three points behind world champions Italy in Group Eight.
England have made their best start to a World Cup qualifying campaign and Wayne Rooney thinks he’s playing at his best, so why haven’t Fabio Capello’s men been bragging about how they’re going to bring home the trophy in 2010?
What has been striking about the Capello era is a new sense of humility and realism that England players had long lacked.
Africa’s remaining World Cup contenders have to travel north across the Mediterranean, over the Alps and on to Zurich next week to find out who they meet in the battle for places at the 2010 finals.
How ridiculous is it that the draw for the last phase of the African preliminaries will take place in the Swiss city ahead of a first-ever African World Cup and at a time when FIFA is trumpeting all sorts of African initiatives.
The great and the good of German soccer have been quick to condemn Kevin Kuranyi after the Schalke 04 striker walked away from the national team at the weekend.
Former Germany coach Franz Beckenbauer said Kuranyi’s behaviour was “ridiculous” and had overshadowed the good impression Germany made in their 2-1 win over Russia.
England fans were criticised by coach Fabio Capello and stand-in captain Rio Ferdinand for booing Ashley Cole after his mistake led to a goal in the 5-1 win over Kazakhstan.
So, what do you make of Zakumi, the green-haired leopard presented last night as the official mascot for the 2010 World Cup?
Organisers deserve credit for remembering to give a big cat a pair of shorts this time. For the last World Cup in Germany in 2006 we had the gormless-looking Goleo, who was (rather daringly) naked from the waist down.
Having daubed graffiti on the wall of Brazil’s dressing-room in Santiago – ”There must be respect for the best national team in the world,” he wrote – Robinho then proceeded to tell the Chilean players where they had gone wrong.