Euro 2012: Jérémy Ménez catches the eye in glimpse of the new France
Considering France were on an unwelcome streak of eight matches without a win in tournament football, a run that goes back to the cataclysmic moment when Zinedine Zidane suddenly slammed into Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup final, Laurent Blanc looked impressively indifferent when his team seized control in Donetsk. Two goals in three slick minutes were greeted by a nonchalant scratch of the head from the French coach.
France’s six-year itch has been considerably more than a minor irritant so this symbol of progress is not insignificant. There is a purpose, a concentration, a unity about the team Blanc has built that emphasises how much they want to focus on the future and put the past to bed with the minimum of fuss.
If the thunderbolts that accompanied La Marseillaise and the storm delay might have been unsettling, France responded with the professionalism to get on with the job in hand when the weather retreated. The best part of an hour in limbo waiting for the match to restart was water Authentic Prada Bag For Sale Philippines off a cockerel’s back. France were sharp enough, building neat passing patterns. The movement of Karim Benzema, Franck Ribéry, Jérémy Ménez and Samir Nasri unspooled the Ukraine Authentic Prada Handbags Online back line like kittens pulling at a string of yellow wool.
For those with long Authentic Prada Milano Handbags memories in French football, seeing those players combine to strut their stuff was a flashback to the Under-17 European Championship of 2004. Benzema, Ménez and Nasri, together with Apertura Outlet Prada Montevarchi Hatem ben Arfa, were part of the victorious French squad who overcame a Spain side containing Cesc Fábregas and Gerard Piqué.
This was a generation schooled at Clairfontaine who have taken a while to flourish, and it is still too early to declare that this is Authentic Prada Shoes Outlet their time but it is certainly a vast improvement on what France were able to show in their past two tournaments, which ended with early exits and simmering discontent. Florent Malouda had described it as France “losing their identity” and with a younger, hungrier squad they are trying hard to develop a new one. They can play with more brio than they displayed here, but they did not need to find top gear to dispose of the Ukranian threat.
It was Ménez, selected ahead of Malouda, who fashioned the breakthrough. During the first half his pacy running had unnerved Ukraine’s wobbly rearguard but the composure was not there to match it. Come the second half, the player once so prodigious he was the youngest professional to appear in Ligue Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Dresses Uk 1, found his range. Once Ribéry and Benzema combined on the break click more, Ménez cut inside Evhen Selin and with a clip of the left foot France had reward for their enterprise. They eased away from Ukraine Authentic Prada Outlet Uk when Yohan Cabaye finished with absolute determination after splendid approach work from Benzema.
While scoring is not to be underrated, and Benzema has as many goals as Cristiano Ronaldo so far in Poland and Barberino Factory Outlet Prada Ukraine, France’s key striker played some classy football and gives the impression that he may well spark in Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Uk Sale front of goal at any moment.
A symbol of how France squeezed the enthusiasm out of Oleh Blokhin’s team was the ungrateful whistling at full-time. It was quite a contrast to the explosive celebrations prompted by the home nation’s win over Sweden in their opening game. Ukraine’s hopes revolved around any situation when the ball came to within a 10 metre radius of their superhero Andriy Shevchenko. Not to be this time, despite a couple of sights of Hugo Authentic Prada Bag For Sale Philippines Lloris’s goal. France’s back four are not their strongest hand but they were hardly overwhelmed by pressure. Blanc’s Bleus are unbeaten in 23 matches and now they have a tournament win under their belts, they look ready to push on.
The storm passed. Once the drama was over, France simply rained all over Ukraine’s party.