Alexa

France opens Euro 2008 with dire 0-0 draw

France opens Euro 2008 with dire 0-0 draw

As France walked off the field after a dire 0-0 draw with Romania at the European Championship, coach Raymond Domenech stood and clapped.
What on earth did he find to applaud?
Maybe he was impressed by his goalkeeper, Gregory Coupet, who was flawless. (He didn't have a shot to save).
He could have admired the Romanians, who stifled his team with a defensive formation.
Perhaps he was impressed by the referee's performance.
Few players in a blue shirt deserved any applause and France gave barely a sign that it will light up this championship with the smooth skills associated with Zinedine Zidane and a fully fit Thierry Henry.
"It's important not to lose to a direct opponent, so you can say it's positive," Domenech said. "It was not easy."
It wasn't easy to watch either.
The trouble is, this France team subjects its fans to something like the drip, drip, drip of water torture. If the last World Cup is anything to go by, they will have this treatment all the way to the final. And then lose on penalties again.
At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, France began with a 0-0 draw against Switzerland, another team it was expected to beat easily. Then came a 1-1 draw with South Korea and the fans were fearing the worst, another first round elimination like in 2002 when it was the defending champion. Happily, the French got to the knockout phase with a 2-0 victory over Togo _ yes, Togo _ and that kick-started a revival.
Victories over Spain, Brazil and Portugal meant a place in the final, which Les Bleus lost in a penalty shootout against Italy.
Now they hope for something again but the signs aren't good.
Although all-time leading scorer Henry was on the bench because of recurring injuries and captain Patrick Vieira was sidelined, neither have been in great form anyway.
The fit young forwards who did play in the game looked as if they had been worn out by a long season playing for their clubs. But they also didn't show the imagination needed to unlock a well-organized but hardly watertight Romanian defense.
Romania is a team that usually contribute little in terms of entertainment to any championship, at least since the days of its biggest star Gheorghe Hagi, and a side of France's caliber and talent should have easily brushed it aside.
As usual, France tried to pass the ball into the net and, on the rare occasions they opted to shoot, Romania goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont watched it sail wide or over.
There was never any realistic chance of France losing this game which made its performance going forward even more frustrating for the thousands of fans who crossed the border into Switzerland.


Updated : 2021-04-14 09:22 GMT+08:00