Friday, 22 January 2010


Don't write off France this summer in South Africa. After their controversial play-off victory against the Republic of Ireland - and being handed a reasonable draw - their price of 16/1 to win the World Cup looks a value bet. Sides that sneak in the back door often have a knack of doing well in the tournament itself. Serious question marks remain about Raymond Domenech and his relationship with the players, but France undoubtedly have class throughout their side and an impressive recent World Cup record to draw on. Ranked seventh in the world by FIFA, France have been in the Final of two of the last three World Cups.

World Cup Pedigree:

France won the first World Cup finals match ever played in 1930 - when they beat Mexico 4-1 - but they didn't progress past the group stage. In 1934 they also went out in the first round before reaching the quarter-finals as the host nation in 1938. It wasn't until 1958 that they managed to reach the last four where they were spanked 5-2 by eventual winners Brazil. That was the year that Juste Fontaine scored an incredible 13 goals in France's six games, a record unlikely ever to be beaten. Amazingly, the next time France managed to get out of their group wasn't until the 1982 World Cup in Spain, when they again reached the semi-finals and lost to West Germany in one of the most dramatic matches in the history of the World Cup. Four years later in Mexico the same two nations faced each other for a place in the Final and again it was the Germans who prevailed. A lean period ensued for France as they failed to qualify for Italia 90 and USA 94, before hosting the 1998 tournament. Victory against Brazil in the Final gave France their first World title and two years later they added the European Championship to cap the finest era in their history. In 2002 they were bought sharpely down to earth, however, as they were shocked by Senegal and Denmark in their group, failing to even score a goal in their defence of the World Cup. In Germany four years ago they were largely perceived to be an ageing side that would struggle, but Zinedine Zidane experienced a renaissance of form that helped steer them past Spain, Brazil and Portugal in the knock-out phase to a Final with Italy, which they lost on penalties.

Greatest Moment:

Triumph on home soil in 1998 as two headers from Zidane helped depose an out-of-sorts Brazil in the Final in Paris to secure France's first and only World Cup.

Biggest Heartbreak:

Losing a 3-1 extra time lead against the Germans in the 1982 semi-final when a place in the Final looked an absolute certainty. Nerves failed for a second time in the resulting penalty shootout when Germany missed first and France failed to capitalize, their dreams dashed in the cruelest of circumstances.

At South Africa 2010, France will be competing in their thirteenth World Cup Finals.

No comments:

Post a Comment