After a dreadfully dull draw with Uruguay and a second poor performance in defeat to Mexico last night, the French are under serious threat of elimination form the World Cup.
Now, I’m not anti French. I’ve been in the country many times and found the people to be welcoming. Their food is excellent and I used to enjoy a good Bordeaux as much as the next man, if not more.
But there is something satisfying about watching the team that only qualified for the finals because of Thierry Henry’s blatant handball performing poorly and possibly heading for an early exit.
And in my look at World Cup betting just before the tournament kicked off I suggested that Mexico would win the group, upsetting France, so I’m also feeling a little smug!
France have looked like a collection of individuals rather than a team. There appears to be no shape or purpose to their game and coach Raymond Domenech seems to have little idea of how to turn things around. There are reports of training ground problems too, so the French camp is clearly not a happy place right now.
Looking at the French squad it appears to contain enough quality to make a real impact in this World Cup. There is no Zidane or Platinit to lead them, but they do have the likes of Ribery, Anelka, Malouda and the aforementioned Henry. Plenty of attacking flair there you would think, but France have failed to score in their two matches.
The French have a poor record in the opening round at recent major tournaments. Euro 2008 saw them finish bottom of their group after defeats to Holland and Italy and a goalless draw with Romania. And in the 2006 World Cup they also struggled. Draws with Switzerland and Korea and a win against the might of Togo saw them qualify in second place before their form improved in the knock out rounds to see them reach the final.
In the 2002 World Cup, as defending champions France were humiliated, surrendering their crown as world champions without even scoring a goal. An opening defeat to Senegal was followed by a goalless draw with Uruguay and a defeat to Denmark.
France play the hosts South Africa in their last group game next Tuesday. They only have a chance of qualification for the next round if they can win by a few goals and hope that there is a winner in the match between Uruguay and Mexico. A draw in that one will see the French eliminated regardless of their own score.
The French are on the brink of failing to negotiate their way out of the group stages once more. And there will be many people, in Ireland especially, who will take great pleasure in seeing them fail.
Schadenfreude? Perhaps. But what’s wrong with that?