By Ryan Fleming
Nothing is right in the French world. Even the motivational Les Marseillaise, the French national anthem, whose words were handed to each player before the match, couldn’t inspire Les Bleus ahead of Friday night’s Euro 2012 qualifier. At France’s helm stands a confused and certainly frustrated Laurent Blanc, a manager that left a once-promising club, Bordeaux, with feelings of doubt after ending the ‘09/’10 campaign with a 2-5-2 record; failing to qualify for European play this season.
Les Bleus forgot what it feels like to win and their supporters, whose passions lie undoubtedly with their national team than any domestic club, are surely fed up after France’s 1-0 defeat to Belarus Friday night. After being embarrassed in the World Cup and equally humiliating the nation that they represent, Blanc has more pressure on him now than perhaps at anytime in his past.
“The hardest thing is football is scoring. We could not do it,” Blanc told Sky Sports. “The current situation is difficult, we have to fight on.”
The suspensions handed out after the almost-literal coup d’etat that occurred internally within the team during the World Cup this summer, has directly caused the team to suffer. With the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Patrice Evra, Jeremy Toulalan and Franck Ribery out due to suspension, Blanc’s job is that much harder. Anelka’s situation, though, is a bit different.
The forward was suspended for 18 games after not showing up to a hearing in front of the French Football Federation, effectively ending his international career. A ban that Anelka laughed at.
“This whole thing is a nonsense, to turn the page because [new coach] Laurent Blanc needs to be able to work in peace,” Anelka told France Soir. “These people are clowns. I’m dying with laughter,” he added.
Anelka’s suspension is the lengthiest – 13 games more than Evra’s five-game suspension.
Despite the avalanche of trouble, there are signs of hope ahead for Les Bleus in their upcoming game against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Karim Benzema, one of France’s most lethal strikers, who was mysteriously left out of its World Cup squad, will be fit for Tuesday night’s clash. But for Blanc, he’ll need more than a striker and a national anthem to rouse his troops. The question is, when will he find it?
Ryan Fleming is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@thesoccerguysonline.com.