Finalists four years earlier, France where earmarked as one of the pre-tournament favourites in South Africa in 2010. Sadly, the optimism surrounding the squad took a traumatic turn for the worst with an upheaval that disgusted the entirety of a nation, with a strong footballing tradition.
Headlines throughout the world reported France’s refusal to train for 58 year old manager Raymond Domenech. An impending internal implosion was coming like a head on collision with a broken, and ill-disciplined squad.
The expulsion of Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka for launching a vicious tirade at Domenech was the culmination of a poisonous streak corrupting the underbelly of a mentally defeated team. The reaction from his teammates was one of support, and the dressing room was lost entirely by the management. It was a rather bizarre showing of support, which undermined the hierarchy. The spat only intensified as Patrice Evra was involved in a physical confrontation with Robert Duverne.
With the hiring of Didier Deschamps after the underwhelming brief spell of Laurent Blanc, the French FA signalled their intention with the strong-willed fiery coach. The result was a rejuvenated team who represented their country in Brazil with a gritty determination to prove the naysayers wrong. The relatively youthful squad was one of the more inspiring and impressive sides. Les Bleus where unfortunate to be eliminated by Germany in the quarter final, thanks to a goal by Borussia Dortmund stronghold Mats Hummels.
There was almost a strong sense of déjà vu when some of Ghana’s more established players revolted against the Ghanaian FA this summer. It overshadowed some fine performances, maybe the African side where just exposing an erratic, and already existent inauspicious running of the team.