It hasn’t been a great tournament for past favorites. FAR staffer Celine Kaladjian’s claim that France ’s performance in the World Cup was “just openly lame” is not too far from the truth. After coming out of the 2006 tournament in second place, their fall from glory has been nothing but chaotic. They failed to win a match in the first round group stage, managing to tie only Uruguay while losing to Mexico and South Africa . The 2006 French squad would have blown through that group easily.
It’s hard to even point to which single problem led to their demise. Players refused to practice after not-so-admired coach Raymond Domenech sent home forward Nicolas Anelka. Fans even gave up on them as they remained scoreless in the Cup until a single goal in their third game by star Florent Malouda against South Africa.
The mess even prompted President Nicolas Sarkozy to investigate exactly what went wrong, against the wishes of FIFA. Between spats with the coach and on-field frustrations, it was a pretty depressing season for the French team and it’s not likely that this World Cup will be erased from their memory anytime soon.