By user Bobo
One of the great moments for football came in the previous World Cup. I remember sitting there watching it, as Senegal overcame France thanks to Papa Bouba Diop's thirtieth minute strike. I remember distinctly rushing home from school and further socialisation on that Friday evening specially to watch the opening match of the World Cup. Still, the subject of the exam I had that day escapes me.. as did most of the answers. Never again will I pretend sport is more important than my various academic "talents". Papa was later to score twice more in the qualifying rounds, and eventually Senegal would meet their maker against Turkey who would meet England's conquerors, Brazil in the semi-final.
And yet for all the shocks that the 2002 World Cup produced, let's not forget that the final was between two of the strongest countries in the world, Brazil and Germany.
France face Switzerland, South Korea and Togo in the group stages. However, their last loss against Switzerland came in 1992, and they were (albeit eventually) victorious over South Korea in 1992, almost a straight year after facing them in the Confederations Cup and in international competition for the first time.
France, were they to get through (and yes, that would have been a formality eight years ago, and yet, not so much any more) will end up facing either Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia or Saudi Arabia. As something of a Ukraine-o-phile personally I would love to see that being pulled off, though somehow as World Cup virgins I don't see it happening the same way as it happened with Senegal.
Les Bleus still have a ton of stars at their disposal, the 100+ capped Lilian Thuram, omnipresent goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira and the up-and-coming Djibril Cisse.
However, I don't think I can see them slipping up this time. Even though the Ukrainians have several stars in Radchenko, Rotan, and Dynamo Kyiv's Oleksandr Rybka, there is only so much a team can ride on. I do hope they can outdo their 2002 performance, but above that, I think this may be one situation where previous form comes into play.