It's Waterloo for French press after Bleus' humiliation

8th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

French newspapers on Sunday lambast France’s humiliating defeat to Austria in the 2010 World Cup qualifying round.

8 September 2008

PARIS -- Former world champions France were given no quarter by the press Sunday a day after a catastrophic start to 2010 World Cup qualifying with a resounding 3-1 defeat to European minnows Austria.

France's failure to make it past the group stage of this summer's European championships left many fans disgruntled, and had coach Raymond Domenech clinging on to his job.

After yet another shaky performance which Domenech classed as "bitter", the national press were far more scathing in their analysis of Les Bleus performance in Vienna.

In the rugby-loving south, La Provence newspaper dug into the history books to highlight a statistic that will provide grim reading for Domenech.

Proclaiming "it's already Waterloo", in reference to the battle which effectively brought Napoleon Bonaparte's rule as Emperor to an end in 1815, it reminded readers that the last time France began their World Cup qualifying campaigns with a defeat they failed to make it to the finals.

In 1968, France lost to Norway and missed the 1970 finals in Mexico, while their 1992 defeat to Bulgaria cost them a trip to the USA two years later.

The paper was scathing in its appraisal of Les Bleus performance against the "mediocre" co-hosts of Euro 2008: "This was a pale shadow of Les Bleus and they got walked all over by a team that was barely at the level it had at the European Championships.

"Nothing has changed (for France) since the Euro. Well, in fact it has. Things have got worse."

"No defence," was how L'Equipe sports daily headlined their front page above a photo of Austria's Rene Aufhauser celebrating his 41st minute goal amid a startled French defence.

That headline effectively had a double meaning - highlighting the lack of a solid French back four while also underlining that the 1998 World Cup champions should, in theory, have no excuses for their dire performance.

Austria got off the mark thanks to Marc Janko in the eighth minute and went in for the break 2-0 up after Aufhauser's goal.

France reduced the deficit thanks to Sidney Govou's quick turn-and-shoot effort just after the hour but just as they looked to be regaining ground another defensive blunder by Roma's Philippe Mexes sealed France's fate.

Mexes physically hauled down an Austrian player leaving the referee with no choice to award a penalty and Andreas Ivanschitz stepped up to easily wrong-foot 'keeper Steve Mandanda in the 72nd minute.

"Ouch, ouch, ouch!" said Ouest-France, one of the country's biggest-selling newspapers, highlighting the fact that all three of Austria's goals came from dead ball situations.

The French football federation will surely be keenly expecting a better result against Serbia on Wednesday at the Stade de France and against Romania on 11 October.

However some newspapers are already starting to put forward possible replacements for Domenech.

L'Alsace, based in north-eastern France near the German border, headlined with "Kolossal Catastrophe".

And while it called for the enigmatic Domenech to be given more time, it put forward two possible replaments in former France captain Didier Deschamps and former fellow international Alain Boghossian.

[AFP / Expatica]

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