Friday, May 16, 2014

Meet the Team: France

Nickname: Les Bleus derive their name from the permanent gloom and ennui that pervades their nation...oh and the flag...that too.
Ribery accpeting SPECTRE's
Employee of the Year Award

Star: Franck Ribéry might just be the Frenchiest looking French man we have ever seen. Honestly, between the close cut hair, the suave style and the fierce scar he looks like he belongs in a café, smoking a cigarette, debating the meaning of life and plotting to annex the world's means of cheese making. Fortunately he confines his dastardly plotting to the world of goal creation, and does so with aplomb.

Hip-Star: Pundits have tapped Paul Pogba of Juventus as the next big thing in French (and perhaps European) football. Of course that means he is SOO yesterday. Instead we recommend Antoine Griezmann who can play both in the midfield and up as a striking complement to his fellow La Liga attacker Karim Benzema. Of course, in the spirit of being French about it, don't mention his name right away, roll your eyes, mutter it offhandedly and then smoke your cigarette/candy cigarette.

X-Factor: France rightly deserves the title of Team Turmoil. Last time around they nearly staged a mid-tournament strike (and certainly played like the were more interested in riding the bench than running around in Africa). They (including Ribéry) been implicated in prostitution rings, the national association has been accused of having a quota on foreign born or Francophone kids. Even the good old days have drama attached (see: History)

The one image that unites
all three of these sections
Coach: In an attempt to reclaim their glory days (see: History), the French went to the well of former champions and hired Laurent Blanc. Then Blanc got caught in scandal (see: X-Factor), and they turned to Didier Deschamps, former captain of both the Cup winning and the Euro winning teams of '98 and 2000. He didn't get them to pass Spain during qualifying but a miracle comeback against Ukraine got them this far, much farther? Who's to say?

History: For a while the French and Spaniards were vying for the title of "best teams never to win the cup", then the French capitalized on home turf, winning it all in 1998 and winning Europe two years later (setting the tone of dominance the Spanish have emulated lately). But they tend to alter great performances tinged with drama (race relations and a title in 1998), with lousy performances and even more drama (crashing out in the first round in 2002 amid feuding players and losing even more in 2010 amid feuding players and coaches).

A bombe slightly smaller than
Monsuier Hollande.
Food: Do you have healthy arteries? Why on earth? There's French cooking to destroy those for you! Between sauteeing more or less everything in butter, coating everything in wine sauces and then injecting pastry with every flavor imaginable. There's no limit to the boundaries of French cooking, but since I'm not that talented, I'm going with a safe, secure Bombe Glacée...three layers of icecream.

Fool: It takes a special person out fool gnomish former president Nicolas Sarkozy and right wing nut Marie Le Pen, but fortunately President François Hollande is quite special. After all, overseas he's a modern day Rambo, and at home he's a modern day Warren Harding. The man's even scooting around Paris between the palace and his mistress, and that's not even the reason the hyper-tolerant French have given him the worst approval rating since World War II.

Best Case: Blessed with a fortunate draw (blame FIFA heir apparent Michel Platini), they cruise to the quarters, get a stirring win against the Germans before falling to Brazil and snatching third place.

Worst Case: It's Déja Vu all over again as the French fall to last place amid frustration and in-fighting, squandering a golden opportunity and losing Pogba to a career ending injury on the way.

My prediction: If it seems like Les Bleus always get the lucky breaks, it's because they do. Now they finally can capitalize on it. Those blessings should keep coming throughout Group E and into the 2nd Round against a less intimidating runner up than any of the other groups. Falling in the Quarterfinals to Germany, might not be ideal, but it's a good sight better than they expected after 2010, or even after qualifying.

Added Bonus: French Hip-hop is one of the best established brands in the Western World, and from that plethora of talent we choose Don Gyeco with "Dans Ma Rue" because he has an album cover that alludes to a classical painting. We are nerds.

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