Regardless of whether there is a replay, or Thierry Henry remains a villain in Dublin for the remainder of his days, Ramon Domenech’s inability to put together a formidable side despite the relative riches France enjoy post-Zizou, should not go unmissed.
Yes, there is every chance that France, and maybe Argentina under Maradona, could spring a surprise and emerge victorious in South Africa, such are there pools of talent and in spite of their shaky qualification but at the moment this seems a remote possibility.
Ribery, Benzema, Gillette Henry, Gourcuff, Nasri, Anelka and new sensation Gignac is the array of attacking talent that Domenech could only muster 18 goals from in 10 qualifying matches. It took an illegal prod of the hand to ensure that William Gallas was able to head into an empty net and avoid Domenech’s future as France coach becoming defined by a penalty shootout.
He may well have taken France to the brink in 2006, but this was largely thanks to an Algerian born wizard giving the world one last hurrah on the biggest of stages, before succumbing to the insults of a mouthy Italian.
There is case that now, with Ribery two years more polished, as are Benzema and Lassana Diarra, and the unearthing of Zidane’s potential heir, Yoann Gourcuff, that France are a better team than four years ago. Lest we forget they have maybe the most lethal full-back combination in Europe, maybe the world between Sagna, Evra and Clichy.
With such ability going forward, and a firm base in Lloris, Gallas and one of Mexes, Abidal or Squillaci, how is it that the French have almost stumbled their way to the finals. It certainly isn’t a Galactico issue with Domenech, as at no point and not always through injuries, have all of the aforementioned attackers been thrown on to the pitch at the same time. Maybe it is worth a try...?
In fact try could be the key fault in France’s stricken armour. Their performances can at best be described lacklustre, despondent and maybe a little arrogant. Yet many of their new faces have not earned the right to keep their heads among the clouds. South Africa could be the very ground where many a French skull finally hits the ground, including those belonging to members of its football association.
Domenech will likely be the first unconscious, unless the stars tell him different of course. Surely then France will turn to a coach with a more grounded understanding of the game. Mr Blanc might well be advised to keep his phone close by, once Casillas or Lucio has finished parading the trophy...