France have a problem and that is their chief coach Raymond Domenech. This was once more evident during their first game last night against Uruguay in Cape Town. And with Domenech set to be replaced by Laurant Blanc after the World Cup one questions if his players are really following the coaches orders.
To draw a political comparison Domenech's situation to me looks to be like that of a lame duck. As Domenech will be leaving after the tournament it doesn't really matter what happens in South Africa. That sounds really worrying then a World Cup is a World Cup, but this happens to be my conclusion after yesterday's weak performance by the Equipe Tricolore.
France have no doubt individual class in players like Franck Ribery, Yoann Gourcuff, Florant Malouda, Nicolás Anelka just to name a few. But that class was totally missing in the overall display by the team yesterday. Individual class doesn't directly mean that it will also show as a team.
France looked clueless, somewhat out of sorts in what to do against an ultra-defensive opponent like Uruguay. And it seems the team lacked the confidence needed to go out and attack such an opponent. Ribery afterwards said that the team was nervous ahead of their first game. This is something which one wouldn't expect from an experienced side like France.
And also Domenech is said to have problems with the team. Some players have become very influential and are taking their ideas on to the coach. E.g. Ribery is said to have told the coach not to use Malouda as he would rather like to play on the left wing. It happened that way. Then my question is shouldn't players, especially quality one's like Ribery, play there where the team needs them most? A question which will likely remain unanswered.
Why did the French FF keep faith in Domenech for so long? That is a question which will never be answered. Surely France reached the 2006 FIFA World Cup final, but at Euro2008 France were thrown in the group stage and the FFF should have fired Domenech then to bring in a new coach.