Is France falling apart already, with the World Cup still weeks away?

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France made a decent showing in World Cup qualifying. Sure, they were forced into a playoff with Ukraine, but after being drawn into a group with Spain, you almost expect to come in second. Their side looked revived, and the country started to dream of a strong national team once more.

But will those dreams once again be discarded? Will France fall apart before they even get on the plane to Brazil?

The last time the World Cup came around, France did a spectacular job of falling apart. Les Bleus were in open rebellion against their manager, refusing to train after Raymond Domenech expelled Nicolas Anelka from the squad. Earlier attempts at team bonding enforced by Domenech, including mountain biking and dune-buggy racing, had failed miserably. The cracks forming between the teammates grew even more sharply defined as the spotlight in South Africa grew brighter.

Of course, their play suffered. After a draw with Uruguay and defeats to both Mexico and South Africa, France finished last in their group. Les Bleus were on their way home.

France are now under the leadership of Didier Deschamps, who took over after Laurent Blanc took the team to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012. Deschamps seems to want to avoid making the same mistakes as Domenech, which may be why he left Samir Nasri out of his World Cup roster. Nasri had a wonderful season at Manchester City, but according to Deschamps, his behavior could weaken team spirit during the time spent in Brazil.

But France are already suffering from the fallout. After Nasri’s girlfriend insulted Deschamps on Twitter, throwing plenty of ugly curses his way, the French coach elected to file a lawsuit against her, claiming “public insult”. The French Football Federation also released a statement, backing Deschamps.

A minor blip, perhaps. After all, Nasri isn’t included in the squad, and there’s no evidence that his teammates are set to rebel over the slight (Nasri was also not part of the 2010 squad). But is this a preview of what is to come from France this time around? Will the coach attempt to crack down, prompting public blowouts and attracting media attention? Will both the coach and the players be distracted, once again, by antics off the pitch?

Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras certainly hope so.

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.