Gotta love the French.
As the nation looks to overturn a two goal play-off deficit against the Ukraine, French newspapers have been polling the public to gauge confidence.
Suffice to say, hopes aren’t very high. In fact, they are downright pessimistic.
As in 84% of the French public doesn’t believe Les Bleus will make it to Brazil 2014, those figures by virtue of 23,000 votes cast in Le Parisien.
A similar poll taken from 60,000 people in L’Equipe had nearly as hopeless a response with 61% of the public believing France won’t qualify for this summer’s World Cup.
And, in what has to be the most troubling question and answer recorded, Le Parisien reports that only 16% of the country answered “yes” in regards to “Do you continue to support Les Bleus in spit of everything?”
It’s a response that will give Didier Deschamps’ team little hope after a flat performance Friday in Kiev. That match saw a weak center-back pairing of Eric Abidal and Laurent Koscielny exposed, with the latter being sent off for two yellow cards. Hopes are that the Arsenal man will be spelled by Real Madrid center-back Raphael Varane, who faces a race to be fit.
France will look to UEFA Player of the Year, Franck Ribery, to inspire the side and expect the Bayern man to link up with Mathieu Valbuena following a dismal performance by Samir Nasri last Friday.
Bowing out to the Ukraine would be a massive blow to Les Bleus after years of recent turmoil concerning fractured player relations with the management staff and the French Football Federation. At World Cup 2010 Nicholas Anelka was kicked off the team for a profanity-laced tirade against coach Raymond Domenech prompting captain Patrice Evra to organize his teammates into a training boycott.
Those actions prompted controversy, suspensions and strong reactions from French fans that have since appeared to be on the mend. But with World Cup qualification in doubt the new confidence polls raises questions as to whether this nation has ever really healed from that incident.
Lionel Messi is back with Barcelona a week earlier than expected, as the Camp Nou set prepares to defend another La Liga title.
That means Messi will be on the roster for the International Champions Cup, as Barcelona is slated to play Celtic, Leicester City, and Liverpool.
[ MORE: Manchester Derby in China on Monday ]
That’s not the only surprise from the 29-year-old, who has pulled an Aaron Ramsey and dramatically altered his ‘do.
Glad to have him back on our screens a bit earlier than planned, and — although I’m far from a style icon — I’ll be just as glad when the blonde grows/washes out of his head.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s long summer has earned him an extended vacation, but the knee injury he suffered in the EURO 2016 Final would’ve kept him from this season’s first big club match anyway.
The 31-year-old star will not be available for the Aug. 9 UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Sevilla, saying he’ll be back in the mix just one day later.
[ MORE: Discussing Yedlin’s future ]
Ronaldo also said he’s going to speak with the club about extending his contract, which runs through the 2017-18 season. He’s very been vocal about his desire to finish his career at the Bernabeu, and will put pen to paper in order to prove it.
From Sky Sports:
“I spoke to the president on the phone and when I get to Madrid, we will talk about it.
“Obviously it’s something I want, I have mentioned it many times, and the club also wants it. But we only spoke briefly, and there will be more concrete things to come.”
No surprises here, though it would’ve been nice to have Ronaldo on our screens for the match-up between his Champions League winners and the Europa League champions.
Preseason matches rarely have legitimate hype, let alone live up to it.
Yet Monday will see Manchester United and Manchester City tangle outside of England for the first time in history, and there are a lot of fans looking forward to the early morning match in China.
[ MORE: Discussing Yedlin’s future ]
A lot of that has to do with it being the first match-up between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho as bosses of City and United, to the extent where journalists asked whether the longtime rivals would shake hands (admittedly a weird question, as if to say, “Are you a grown-up?”).
They essentially issued the same answer, and here are Mourinho’s comments, from ManUtd.com:
“Of course I will shake his hand – why wouldn’t I? I don’t understand the question to him or to me. We were opponents for three years [in Spain] but we are professionals. I don’t see why I wouldn’t shake his hand.”
Both managers also talked, understandably, about fitness and health being their No. 1 goal of the match, and there are concerns about the pitch in China due to heavy rains.
Guardiola also gave insight into Vincent Kompany‘s continued struggles with recovery from the injury that hampered him for much of last season, refusing to give a timetable for the captain’s return.
The game in 100 words (or less): In keeping with the the theme of “we never really learn anything in MLS, it just kind of happens,” both the Colorado Rapids or FC Dallas had the chance to make a massive statement in the two sides’ ongoing race for the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield (FCD entered Saturday’s clash at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a three-point lead), but they ultimately settled for a 1-1 draw, and we settle for “wait until next week, maybe we’ll actually learn something then.” At least the goals were great, though — Marlon Hairston opened the scoring by rounding the goalkeeper with traffic in all directions, and Victor Ulloa unleashed a rocket from well outside the penalty area to equalize late on. In that sense, the 90 minutes were befitting a first-versus-second matchup. The draw means the Rapids are unbeaten in their last 15 league games, but the LA Galaxy, who won away to the Portland Timbers and inched two points closer to the league’s elites, are ultimately the day’s biggest winners.
[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]
Three Four moments that mattered
26′ — Akindele goes inches wide of the far post — Quick, decisive movement around the penalty area is the only way to create that half-yard of space needed to fire a shot off.
33′ — Hairston breaks out, Zimmerman makes the dramatic block — Hairston was thisclose to having a one-on-one chance on goal, but Walker Zimmerman made a spectacular recovery run and an even better last-second sliding tackle to deflect Hairston’s shot narrowly wide of the post.
44′ — Hairston rounds Seitz to make it 1-0 — Composure, quickness, finesse. Hairston displayed it all on this goal, his second in as many games.
82′ — Ulloa unleashes a blast from 25 yards out f0r 1-1 — If not for the net on the goal, Ulloa’s strike might still be traveling at an ever-so-slightly upward trajectory for the rest of time.
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Man of the match: Sam Cronin
Goalscorers: Hairston (44′), Ulloa (82′)