Sunday, October 4, 2009

Reports of France's Demise Are Exaggerated

France hasn't covered itself in glory in World Cup qualifying, to date, but things aren't nearly as bad as this fairly hysterical story would suggest.

France is second in Europe Group 7 and is almost certain to clinch the No. 2 slot when it plays at home against little Faroe Islands on Oct. 10.

And a second-place finish puts France into one of the four home-and-home playoffs with another second-place team out of Europe. France would rate as a favorite over nearly any second-place team, no?

Meanwhile, Serbia likely will win Group 7. A victory home against Romania or at Lithuania wraps up a berth in South Africa for the Serbs.

Certainly, a case can be made that France should jettison coach Raymond Domenech. He is a bit of a goofball ... but he also has contrived to turn the French into a group that can't score.

But France still has gobs of talent. Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery ... there is scoring ability there. Even if les bleus are an army of lions led by a rabbit (as Napoleon might have put it), the lions might be able to advance despite their Rabbit in Chief.

Yoann Gourcuff isn't available to France, and that creates a problem because he is a creative midfielder. But Ribery ought to be able to fill in.

Once it wraps up second place, all France needs is a home victory and a road draw to advance to South Africa. That would be a more achievable goal with someone else as coach ... but even Raymond Domenech ought to be able to scare up a home victory and a road tie against some other group runner-up.

No comments:

Post a Comment