World Cup: France faces curse of champions

Retaining the title of world champion is (almost) an impossible mission. Only Italy (1934, 1938) and Brazil (1958, 1962) did it. Another era. Since 2002, a kind of curse has hit even the last saint: France, Italy, Spain and Germany have not even made it past the group stage of the post-crown edition. in the question? Overconfidence in the players of the past and a style of play that does not suit today’s football.

2002: France falls from a great height

In 1998, France, the European champion in 2000, came to the World Cup organized by Japan and Korea in the shoes of favorites. He also has three scorers (Henry, Trezegue, Cissé). Nothing goes to plan in this ‘World of Fatigue’, which saw Argentina, Portugal and therefore France exit the group stage.

Coach Roger Lemerre cannot manage an overconfident team. Blues have a good time with their families in their luxury hotel or in a basement nightclub. Zinedine Zidane is injured. He left a huge void on the field, replaced by Youri Djorkaeff, then Johan Micoud.

In 2002, France lost to Senegal (0:1). (FEL/Team)

The earth, in fact, does not give gifts to the French. Against Senegal (0-1), Thierry Henry hits the bar and David Trezeguet misses the posts twice. Monegasque Toni Silva works wonders in the opposing goal.

The second game against Uruguay is of the same type (0:0). France, now without Zidane and Djorkaeff, lost Henry (sent off) after just 25 minutes with Frank Leboeuf injured. Emmanuel Petit touched the post and then received a booking which punished him in the last match against Denmark. Again, it all goes wrong (0-2). Zidane makes the most of one leg but Marcel Desailly then Trezeguet hits the post. Without juice, without ideas, France is disappearing miserably.

2006: Brazil fell to Zidane

Brazil, who finished first in the qualifying round of the Amsud zone, arrived in Germany without Edmilson, who was injured in the training camp. This does not prevent him from excelling in the group stage with three wins (Croatia, Australia, Japan). If the team is solid (one goal conceded), despite their stars (Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano), they struggle in attack.

Brazil suffered against Zidane's France in 2006. (A. Martin/L'Equipe)

Brazil suffered against Zidane’s France in 2006. (A. Martin/L’Equipe)

Critics have particularly poured in on Carlos Alberto Parreira’s men, who have decided to build a counter-attacking team that relies on Robinho’s pace. Ghana did not resist attacking transitions (3-0), but this pragmatic Seleção crushed France in the next round (0-1). Especially about Zinedine Zidane, the author of the fantastic match.

“It was nonsense. So-and-so was looking to break records, so-and-so was looking for self-respect. Brazil did nothing.” then Jairzinho tackles former international Gerson as he talks about the team “apathetic and tired. » At home, fans burned Ronaldinho’s effigy in Chapeco.

2010: Italy is completely obsolete

Four years after Zidane’s victory against France in the final, it was Italy who tried in vain to defend their title at the end of the competition. The Nazionale field one of the teams with the highest average age of the tournament (Cannavaro, Zambrotta, Di Natale, Gattuso, Buffon, Camoranesi …) Marcello Lippi, who returns to the bench in place of Roberto Donadoni, defends a particularly restrictive game. it no longer fits today’s football. The failure of the 2009 Confederations Cup (group stage struggle), slow qualifiers and dismal warm-up matches did not warn anyone.

Italy, held in check by Paraguay (1-1) with Gigi Buffon injured, shows nothing against New Zealand (1-1): Fabio Cannavaro commits a blunder and a generous penalty is required to break the tie (1-1) .

In 2010, the madness of Chiellini and Italy was over.  (P. Lahalle/Team)

In 2010, the madness of Chiellini and Italy was over. (P. Lahalle/Team)

“Nationale” faced Slovakia in the third game. 0-2 up, he rebels, gets back on the scoresheet, but bows out after seeing Simone Pepe miss an equalizer (2-3). It is the first time that he has participated in the World Cup without a win. “We were neither psychologically nor physically ready” takes Lippi after elimination. Without players in the style of Roberto Baggio, Francesco Totti, Pepito Rossi or Antonio Cassano (the latter two were sacked by the manager), his team lacked madness and above all creativity. Andrea Pirlo suffered a calf injury shortly before the match.

2014: The end of Spanish tiki-taka

Two matches and then it’s gone: Spain, world champions for the first time in 2010, suffered a fiasco four years later. Unbeaten for the first time in a qualifying group including France, Vicente Del Bosque’s Roja, solid in their warm-up matches, still arrive in Brazil with little enthusiasm. Without Thiago Alcantara (with a pre-tournament knee injury) and Xabi Alonso, it falls from the top of the first leg against the Netherlands, avenging the previous final.

Leading 1-0 until the 44th minute, he collapsed after the break (1-5). Arjen Robben opens the central defense (Pique, Ramos). Iker Casillas, who has not played for Real for 18 months, made many mistakes, one of which allowed the Dutch to score the fourth goal…

David Silva's Spanish team made a correction in 2014 against the Netherlands.  (S. Mantey / L'Equipe)

David Silva’s Spanish team made a correction in 2014 against the Netherlands. (S. Mantey / L’Equipe)

The second leg against Jorge Sampaoli’s Chile is a litany of unchanged moves against Claudio Bravo. South American offensive passes, behind him, sink him (0-2). Spain are out of contention, weighed down by players who are tired, aging (Xavi) or returning from injury (Pique, Costa, Busquets, Alba). His very slow tiki-taka, his inability to press when the ball is lost and the lack of a player in front also explains the great failure of the “golden generation”.

2018: Germany at the end of the race

Germany, which lost against France in Marseille (0:2) in the semifinals of Euro-2016, is experiencing greater disappointment in Russia. The current world champion, the author of a perfect qualifying campaign (10 wins) and the winner of the 2017 Confederations Cup, is one of the favorites for the 2018 World Cup. He is too sure to miss the first match against Mexico (0:1). Critics of Mats Hummel (injured during this meeting) renew a group particularly divided by the political scandal surrounding Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan.

Thomas Müller and the Germans came into 2018 overconfident.  (R. Martin/L'Equipe)

Thomas Müller and the Germans came into 2018 overconfident. (R. Martin/L’Equipe)

The team is disappointing in attack. He scored only two goals, including Kroos’ unexpected free-kick in stoppage time against Sweden (2-1). Thomas Müller and Timo Werner are not clinical (28 clean sheets against Korea, who won 2-0). Lacks creativity and verticality, especially without Leroy Sane (sacked by Joachim Löw). Behind, Jerome Boateng reaches against the Swedes. By abusing the long game, completely unbalanced, Germany leaves gaps everywhere and exits from the group stage.

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