French flair nowhere to be seen
Graeme Bailey looks back at France's dismal display against Romania.
Last Updated: 09/06/08 10:59pm
Well the much fancied France will have done nothing to inspire confidence for those who have backed them as they limped their way through their opening Group C clash with Romania.
Group C has been labelled the 'Group of Death' but on the evidence of what was dished up in the dire goalless draw in Zurich - neither Holland or Italy have much to worry about.
The main issue for France was their creativity and that was highlighted by Claude Makelele's display in the famed 'water carrier' role in the French line-up.
The Chelsea man did his job without question, but there was just no outlet for him. It is his job to get the ball to those who can do the damage - but there was nobody in a blue shirt wanting to take the ball off him, let alone take on the responsibility of creating.
More often than not Makelele was left with the task of producing himself and even in his hey-day that would have proved difficult.
The one time he did launch a beautiful ball over the top, club-mate Florent Malouda gave chase and looked set to get to it - but he caught sight of Romanian goalkeeper Bogdan Lobant and that was enough for him to inexplicably hit the breaks!
That summed up Malouda's display as he showed as much for in this game as he did for most of the season with Chelsea.
There was one glimmer of hope as he burst into the box midway in the second-half - but the finish was disappointing, which takes us on nicely to the third of the Cheslea triumvirate - Nicolas Anelka.
And unfortunately for him he did not fare any better than his team-mates, he missed a good chance in the first-half as he headed over from ten-yards when unmarked.
The second-half and Anelka did not improve and he was hauled off on 70 minutes as Bafetimbi Gomis came on - the man labelled the new Didier Drogba and strongly linked with a move to England.
He did not have long to make an impact and well, he didn't and showed very little of his undoubted promise which has had the likes of Newcastle and Arsenal sitting up and taking notice.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was commentating on the match and his eye would no doubt, as with most of the Gunners faithful, have turned to Samri Nasri as he came on with ten minutes to go, but like with Gomis he had little time to make an impact and didn't!
Also on show was Arsenal's William Gallas in central defence and he did what was expected helping Les Bleus to a clean-sheet but his attacking compatriots had little to smile about.
On this performance Arsenal legend Thierry Henry - who missed the game through injury - will surely be risked next time out as there was little on show.
Indeed the much heralded Karim Benzema, linked with just about every team in Europe including Manchester United, did little to enhance his burgeoning reputation with a fairly stale display.
In contrast to France, Romania's game-plan went to plan as they claimed the point they wanted with relative ease.
From a British point of view there was not much on show for Romania until a few minutes from time when Inverness striker Marius Niculae was given a run-out.
He didn't have much chance to get involved but it would have been a major boost to him and Caley Thistle to see him play in the finals.
Former Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu showed some fine touches and was a glimpse of the talent which he wasted during his time in London.
West Brom fans will also have seen with interest the performance of their former man Cosmin Contra - who did very well at right back.