Blanc’s boys given hard time by French press
France’s footballers will not wish to read the French press on their return home Sunday after their limp 2-0 defeat at the hands of defending champions Spain in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
For while Laurent Blanc has achieved the minimum target set by the French Football Federation of guiding the team to the last eight - the first time since the 2006 World Cup finals they reached the knockout stages - the press were less forgiving.
“Departing without leaving a trace” was L’Equipe’s headline on the match adding that they left with a mediocre record and a campaign that will be easily forgotten.
If that was uneasy reading, there was worse to follow.
“After having won only one of its four matches at the Euro, the French team will have no need to take a detour by the Champs Elysees or Place de la Concorde before returning home this evening,” the paper remarked, referring to the route taken by the champions of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 in open-decked buses.
It went on to say that they had been sent on their way by a workmanlike Spanish side that did the job effectively without having to over-exert themselves.
L’Equipe cites how the four shots mustered by France during the match - with only one on target - is the lowest by a French side in the last six years and the total of four shots on target (3 from Spain) was the joint lowest of the Euro.
The paper’s correspondent implied that the 2010 World Cup debacle was far from exorcised from the psyche of the squad and that in fact the dressing room spat after the 2-0 group game loss to Sweden, while it was downplayed by the backroom staff, only served to reignite images of South Africa.
“They depart from the competition without leaving a trace but escorted by old demons which will for a while to come taint their image and affect their future.”
The players behaviour also reminded the paper of the South Africa catastrophe.
Yann M’Vila’s refusal to shake either the hand of Blanc or substitute Olivier Giroud when he was taken off in the 79th minute was held up as emblematic of how some of the present squad had learned nothing from South Africa.
Blanc receives some praise for having done a major rebuilding job in the two years he has been in charge since replacing the hapless Raymond Domenech.
Journal de Dimanche was scarcely more enthusiastic, headlining with “The Blues leave with heads bowed”, but it is kinder in its analysis.
“The France team leaves without glory but also not in shame. They did not deserve better than a quarter-final for their performances here but they did deserve to reach it based on all the work they have done in the past two years.
“If you consider the record they took into the Euro (unbeaten in 21 games) it is disappointing, but when you see from how low they have come (Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup) it is a decent, even encouraging performance.
“Despite the up and downs they have made us hungry to watch them grow.”