Donetsk, June 14
Six years after Zinedine Zidane played his last match, France is still looking for someone to replace him.
Zidaneís absence was again highlighted in Franceís 1-1 draw with England at the European Championship. The French were timid early in the Group D match, and were then unable to turn long spells of pressure into goals.
"Was it fear? Was it because of what was at stake? Perhaps. Collectively and individually we need to improve," France coach Laurent Blanc said. "We didnít want to take risks and thatís the surest way to get punished."
What France really seems to lack is someone who can provide a moment of magic, just like Zidane used to do when he helped the team win the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. He also was, however, given a red card for head-butting an opponent in the 2006 World Cup final loss to Italy in the final match of his career.
Since then, France has failed to win a match at two major tournaments, Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. Even worse, the team went on strike at the World Cup in South Africa, leading to a massive rift with the fans and decimating the confidence of the young players left to pick up the pieces.
But although the team was revived under Blanc and has been unbeaten in its last 22 matches, it has already started to make excuses after opening Euro 2012 with a draw against the English.