2008 France Euro Soccer Preview
by Doc's Sports - 05/22/2008
Les Bleus are no stranger to success in world soccer. World Cup winners in 1998 and Euro 2000 champions, France became the first football nation to hold both trophies since former West Germany in 1974.
However, they could not keep that top form when defending their titles. In stunning fashion, they were ousted in the 2002 World Cup without having scored a goal, and fell in the quarterfinals in Euro 2004 just the same.
Things got back to the standard that is French football, as they advanced all the way to the 2006 World Cup final against Italy. Despite losing in penalty kicks, France saw the highs and lows of one of the squad's best ever footballers in Zinedine Zidane. Zizou took home the Golden Ball as the tournament's top player, but of course he will be remembered most for headbuttting Marco Materazzi prior to spot kicks deciding the title.
Golden Player Watch - Franck Ribery, M
We saw Ribery's coming out party in Germany during the 2006 World Cup, and now he is so much an important piece to what the French put together with their attacking unit and going forward. His pace can rarely be matched, and his ball skills compliment his fitness very well. Small in statue at 5'7'', bumping into him on the street wouldn't exactly make you have a double take, but his athleticism and mental capacity for the game exceed the majority of players at this level.
Reason Why They Will Advance to Elimination Round
France is one of this year's squads that have a great deal of veteran leadership. With Liliam Thuram and William Gallas in the back four, France again has one of the strongest central defenses going. Captain Patrick Veira has secured over 100 caps for his country, while Claude Makelele is one of the finest defensive midfielders in the world.
Striking quality up front comes with depth. Everyone knows the brilliances of Thierry Henry. He is sure to feature in the starting 11. But his partnership can be with either the electric youngster Karim Benzema, who's emergence in qualifying and with club side Lyon has been strongly noted, or proven scorers Nicolas Anelka, Sidney Govou or the charismatic Djibril Cisse.
Plenty of talent for sure, but the biggest question for France will be is there enough in the tank from the savvy veterans, who will be facing exuberant youth this summer - and for my money that will prevail when all said and done.
Group Play Schedule
France vs. Romania - June 9
France vs. Netherlands - June 13
France vs. Italy - June 17