French press bring guillotine down on Les Bleus

9th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 8, 2007 (AFP) - An unforgiving French media gave no quarter in its appraisal of a "catastrophic" France team after the World Cup hosts' shock defeat to Argentina here on Friday.

PARIS, Sept 8, 2007 (AFP) - An unforgiving French media gave no quarter in its appraisal of a "catastrophic" France team after the World Cup hosts' shock defeat to Argentina here on Friday.

France, one of the favourites for the World Cup title, lost the tournament's opening match 17-12 to the Pumas - a result which has severely dented their chances of even reaching the final four of the competition.

"A catastrophic scenario," ran the headline on the front page of L'Equipe sports daily next to a photo of a forlorn looking Serge Betsen and teammate Imanol Harinordoquy.

After months of being paraded as muscular gladiators capable of becoming the world champions, Bernard Laporte's team was brought back to earth with a bang with the scary thought of not even making it to the last four a distinct possibility.

If they finish second in Pool D, which includes Ireland, Argentina, Georgia and Namibia, France will face the powerful All Blacks - if the New Zealanders come out top in Pool C ahead of Scotland, Italy, Romania and Portugal.

L'Equipe added: "The World Cup has just started and we don't want to believe that it's already finished for Les Bleus (...) now they must achieve the impossible."

In a separate supplement dedicated to the six-week tournament the newspaper was unforgiving in its opinion of the mediocre and error-strewn French display.

"A total failure," ran the main headline, with a short editorial condemning the "lack of play, leadership, and collective intelligence".

It added: "France has had a nightmare start to the World Cup. A defeat to Ireland on September 21 will bring the curtain down on Les Bleus' campaign."

Argentina played the match of their lives to gatecrash the hosts' party, although having won four of their five previous clashes with France the south Americans should have been odds-on to produce a result.

The Pumas scored all of their points in the first half with Ignacio Corleto scoring a breakaway try and Felipe Contepomi, playing alongside brother Manuel, kicking the other points.

David Skrela kicked France's meagre four-penalty response.
  
Liberation newspaper chimed in: "A calamitous start for Les Bleus", and underlined France's ongoing difficulty in overcoming Argentina, their 'bogey' team.
  
Le Figaro was as equally pitiless with their sports page headline: "A slap in the face". The newspaper joined all the others in making its feelings known to the super-hyped France team: "The country's wildest hopes have shattered into piececs, and been replaced by jeers.

"We will now have to pray in the hope that the French will get over this abominable defeat."

AFP

Subject: French news

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