Michel di Vacri
I have enjoyed the company of Monsieur Robert and his entourage but I thought the readers might appreciate a break from the restaurants and the good life and allow me a few paragraphs to discuss the state of French national football.
Les Bleus are the host of the forthcoming Euros so obviously would not have to compete in the qualifiers. The only real surprise here is the omission of the Netherlands. Home advantage may not be as significant as the majority of the team will be playing in overseas leagues. Of the eleven that started the friendly against Russia and won 4-2, five were playing in the Premier (Lloris, Sagna, Sakho, Martial and Kante), two in the Liga (Varane and Griesmann) and only three in our ligue one (Diarra, Evra and Cignac). On the bench were two players who have made quite an impact in the Premier, Payet at West Ham and Cabaye now at Crystal Palace. Morgan Schneiderlin is injured as is Benzema and there is the prodigal son too Ribery. All in all this makes for a squad of some depth for coach Didier Deschamps the captain of the great side that won the World Cup and Euros.
Whether Les Bleus can beat mighty Germany, Spain or Italy – or even England with all your fine youngsters – we cannot say. I was talking to Rex Mitchell who said England were strong in friendlies but come the crucial quarter final they get beaten, often on penalties. He hopes Rooney is not selected: the last of the so called golden generation that won precisely nothing, he comes with the baggage of Team Rooney who will put media pressure on the manager. There is so much young talent there notably the Spurs boys that I don’t see space for Rooney. Drinkwater looked a useful player too. His name reminds me of Eric Cantona’s description of Deschamps as the water carrier. Cantona became a film star and some of you might have seen Frank Lebeouf in small cameo roles too. Neil Rosen says he will help me with a list of Riviera films (To Catch a Thief/Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) but that is for another day….