Euro 2004: First Round, Group B, Day 2

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
June 17th, 2004 • 11:29 am

It was back to Earth for the French boys. They were fortunate to win against England in the first game, and they struggled to get even a single point from this second game, which appeared to be completely under control at half-time. They were definitely guilty of resting on their (meagre) laurels, since the opening goal was very fortunate and they didn’t really do what it would have taken to impose themselves.

Then in the space of five crazy minutes early in the second half, two calamitous errors by the French defense turned the game upside down. First Silvestre concedes his second penalty in two games and, as far as I am concerned, can be shipped back to France right away. (Ferguson can have him full-time if he wants him.) Barthez doesn’t save his colleague’s face a second time. Then Desailly completely misses a clearance and Prso, who didn’t ask for that much space, comfortably beats Barthez. And France is really, really lucky to get a goal back thanks to an awful backpass and an unnoticed hand ball by Trezeguet.

I hope that this was a clear enough indication to Santini that he needs to be serious about denying Desailly a place in the line-up if he’s not up to snuff. He did so in the first game, and I suspect that he felt some kind of pressure to let Desailly play in this game that looked deceivingly comfortable for France, on paper. He might yet regret this decision. Now France has to really play seriously in the third game against Switzerland, whereas a win over Croatia would have given them a chance to rest key players for the next round.

Then again, it doesn’t look like many other teams will get a chance to rest their key players in the third game either. So that keeps the playing field somewhat level, I guess. From tournament favourites after their stupendous win against England, France have now become yet another unconvincing team that fails to dominate rather humble opponents. Italy, England, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Holland all say, “Welcome to the club!” And that’s about the only reassuring thing about today’s game.

Elsewhere England win 3-0 but are, again, rather fortunate and flattered by a score line that owes a lot to the yet untamed talent of Wayne Rooney.

Another round of nail-biting for supporters throughout Europe, then!

One Response to “Euro 2004: First Round, Group B, Day 2”

  1. Warren Beck says:

    France didn’t deserve to suffer the PK (the Croatian attacker apparently had a stroke or something in the area, he wasn’t touched), so maybe the handball was the ref’s way of balancing the sheet. An interesting match for sure–Croatia should have scored in the 93rd minute from five yards out….

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