Today’s sports headlines are dominated by the forthcoming Eire v France football match this Saturday. There are, understandably, high levels of anxiety in France that they may not qualify for the World Cup next year in South Africa. Finishing second in one of the less strong groups has already been a savage blow to French pride, I’m not sure they can take being dumped out of the World Cup by the Irish.
L’Equipe has devoted four pages to this very topic, including a run-down on the Irish team by former or current French team mates. Aston Villa’s very own Richard Dunne has been singled out for a special mention on account of his aerial capabilities, particularly from set-pieces. French-speaking Irish pundits such as Tony Cascarino and Liam Brady have been interviewed at length and their views sought on the likely outcome. Everyone seems united in their view that Domenech is the weak link, being much less tactically savvy than Trapattoni.
One current (Loic Remy) and two ex-Nicois players (Rod Fanni and Hugo Lloris) feature in France’s squad along with a whole host of French players currently lighting up the English Premiership and Spain’s La Liga. Leaving aside the one notable absentee from the squad, Frank Ribery, man for man the French are either equal or superior to the Irish in every position. But football is a team game, the Irish have great team spirit and will not be a pushover. Just ask the Italians, who drew 2-2 at Croke Park last month.
Postscript: Friday and L’Equipe has extended it’s coverage to 41/2 pages. No doubt it’ll be going into overdrive this week end with further pre-match coverage tomorrow and the, all important, post match analysis on Sunday. Any bets on 6 pages?
Saturday Postscript: It’s 7 whole pages!