Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tournaments-Part 10- 1997 Tournoi de France- Part 4 (Conclusion)

Each participating Team had a different takeaway from this Tournament, ‘Le Tournoi’.
In an interview right after the Tournament, Jacquet bluntly stated, “we are nowhere near world champions”.
LNF President, Noel Le Graet was just as honest, saying “If the World Cup was tomorrow we would not win.”
As far as the hosts it was clear that preparation and recuperating from fatigue accumulated over an entire season was key. Jacquet pointed out that the most prepared teams (Brazil and England) won, while the most tired ones (France and Italy) ended at the bottom.
France had been a major disappointment. The only players to come way with some credit were Barthez (despite his error vs. England), Blanc, Thuram and Ba.
The main criticism concerning their play was their inability to change rhythm in midfield and lack of creativity (Zidane/Djorkaeff both tired).
They rarely managed to trouble the opposition defenses.
Jacquet was nevertheless satisfied that he had succeeded in making the players understand that they must adapt and put in place many different formations.
He explained his reluctance to use Zidane-Djorkaeff in a combination was to prepare Djorkaeff for the task in case Zidane got injured at the World Cup.
He also explained that he had used Deschamps in every match with no alternative, as the team needed his authority.
Observers from ‘France Football’ noted that from match to match, France increased its attacking from the center and the flanks were unused. Despite the fact that Thuram and Liarazu were free in the flanks, the tendency was instead to either pass to Zidane (for Lizarazu) or Deschamps (for Thuram) in the middle. In contrast, the other teams, such as Brazil and Italy had used the flanks more efficiently.
Jacquet stated that when a year ago he was drawing up his plans for ‘Le Tournoi’, he envisioned himself training his players for a minimum of six days, instead 5 or 6 of his players arrived at midnight the day before France’s first match. Jacquet praised his team for their heart but as most were tired it was difficult to dictate the play. He emphasized the need for a proper training camp with enough time for preparation.
He did praise his players’ mental strength after such a tiring season.
Due to the new Bosman ruling, the talents of Zidane, Djorkaeff and others had earned them transfers to the top Leagues in Europe. The players were beneficiary of new winning mentalities that could only enhance them. Zidane publicly stated that since his transfer to Juventus he only thought of winning.
This was also a double-edged sword for Jacquet as he did not access to the players as he might had before and had to adapt himself with the limited time allocated to him with the players.
At the end of the ‘Tournoi’, the French Media and the public were very much opposed to Jacquet and his tactics. Winning the World Cup appeared highly unlikely at this stage after these performances.
Jacquet was fully aware, but stated that he had passed the point of caring for criticisms as he knew what he was doing and was optimistic because for the World Cup there would be one month of preparation.
Jacquet wanted to experiment until the end of the year, but reminded that serious preparation would begin in January 1998.
He repeatedly reminded the French Media and Public to not give too much importance to the events of the ‘Tournoi’ and not lose sight of the main objective. He assured that he knew the course that he had set.
As far as the goalkeeping position, Bernard Lama had essentially shot himself in the foot and would not regain his starting position to Barthez.
For his defense, Jacquet was confident on his block of Thuram (right back), Lizarazu (left back) and Blanc and Desailly in the center. It would have been a difficult task for the likes of Candela and Leboeuf to dislodge the regulars.
In midfield, Jacquet relied on the defensive midfield pair of Captain Deschamps and Karembeu with Zidane as organizer and Djorkaeff further up.

Photo From: Le Livre D'or du Football 1997, Author Gerard Ejnes
(Youri Djorkaeff, June 7, 1997, Le Tournoi, France 0-England 1)

All the other positions were up for grabs, as Jacquet was unable to rely on a consistent striker and this Tournament confirmed that deficiency.
Jacquet stated that he had not chosen a set striking option, as someone might come through, but from January onwards it will be set and defined.
At this point, Ibrahima Ba seemed to a shoe-in for the World Cup as he had been the toast of France since the beginning of the year and was on his way to AC Milan. However, this transfer would forever derail his career and he would lose out on a World Cup spot.

Photo From: Le Livre D'or du Football 1997, Author Gerard Ejnes
(Ibrahima Ba and Aldair, June 3, 1997, Le Tournoi, France 1-Brazil 1)

The young Thierry Henry was already being tipped to be making his debut for France and in a year’s time, France would include revelations like him and his Monaco teammate David Trezeguet.
A player who at this stage seemed out of reckoning, Emmanuel Petit would make a resurgence and make the World Cup squad after the success of his transfer to Arsenal.
As far as matters off the field, there were some complaints about the Organization. Platini had boasted that, “This is all about organization in a big way: logistics, security, the press center, the accreditations, everything”.
However, as early as the first there were issues. Many fans had arrived late for the France-Brazil match because of Traffic and Pedestrian access problems that would need to be resolved for the World Cup.
The high cost of the ticket prices was also an issue, which could perhaps explain why some of the venues were not filled (especially France-England match at Montpellier).
The French Federation President Claude Simonet defended the prices, by explaining that given the entry fees for the participating Nations, plus result bonuses, they had been forced to raise prices.
The French fans’ antipathy towards the National Team was also noticed. They were generally disappointed by the team’s displays and often booed the team. Jacquet was very disappointed by this and believed the ticket prices were the major reason for this.
Deschamps blamed the mentality of the French fan. He explained that his experience in the Italian League had been drilled in him the desire to win and that they enter the field to win. In contrast the French fans prefers a (3-3) tied result to a (1-0) win, but they should accept the fact that France can not score 3 goals every match.
Laurent Blanc was just as disappointed and stated; “If we cannot fill a stadium like Montpellier for the French National Team then something is seriously wrong.”

The takeaway from Brazil was they had performed satisfactorily short of setting the world alight.
Their match vs. Italy was considered something they could build on. Their capacity to come back from a two-goal deficit was a testament to their resilience.
It was believed that the Ronaldo-Romario combination was just what Brazil needed to win and their combination augured well for the World Cup.
The defense was far from solid and needed improvements. Romario felt they conceded too many goals, as did most.

Photo From: Le Livre D'or du Football 1997, Author Gerard Ejnes
(Romario, June 8, 1997, Le Tournoi, Brazil 3-Italy 3)

Ronaldo performed adequately but short of expectations after his season with Barcelona. Many felt his performances were affected due to pre-occupation with his impending transfer to Internazionale Milano.
Veterans Dunga and Mauro Silva were showing signs of age but were still vital elements for the team. Mauro Silva was more vulnerable as the younger and faster Flavio Conceição was on his heels.
Roberto Carlos stood out not only for his wonder strike vs. France but also for his play as a wingback. In contrast, the normally reliable Cafu was excellent vs. France, but his form dipped afterwards.
The inclusion of veteran defender Aldair was constantly questioned by the Brazilian Press but he had Zagallo’s faith despite his indifferent performances (only good match vs. France).
His partner in defense Celio Silva failed to justify his selection as cover for the fading Marcio Santos and would soon be out of contention.
Many believed Lenardo was inconsistent and finished matches better than he started them.
Brazil’s revelation was Denilson, especially in the match vs. Italy. The soon-to-be 20 year old was being spoken of as a future superstar. Soon he would be subject to a World Record Transfer from Real Betis (to take place after the World Cup).
By next summer Mauro Silva and more controversially Romario would be left off the squad (Romario’s exclusion is an entire topic in itself).
Therefore, the much dreamed about Ro-Ro combination did not take place.
Bebeto would return to the squad along with (re)emerging Rivaldo.
By the time of the World Cup, Brazil failed to remedy their defensive frailties and it would cost them the title.
Zagallo was satisfied of the Tournament as a whole. He made a note that at Oslo (2-4 loss at the eve of the ‘Tournoi’), Brazil had not had adequate preparation and they suffered. He believed his team improved with each match.

The takeaway from the Italians was very much like the French, in terms of the need for rest and proper preparation.
As the most reluctant of guests, the Italians wanted to leave as soon as possible. Given their first performance vs. England, they were no doubt satisfied with their following performances vs. Brazil and France.
All these factors made it difficult to judge the true worth and performances of this team.
Del Piero was one of the lone Italians who stood out, while Albertini confirmed his worth.
After an excellent season with Chelsea, Gianfranco Zola was surprisingly disappointing and clearly tired.
The Little Soldier, Angelo Di Livio was also a disappointment for the Azzurri.
Vicenza (and soon AC Milan) midfielder Giampiero Maini was a major disappointment and his one-half vs. England would be his only cap.
Italy’s revelation would be defender Stefano Torrisi who did well vs. France. Surprisingly this would also be his only cap, as he would disappear from contention.

Tournament winners and the pleasant surprise of ‘Le Tournoi’ were the young English squad.
Glenn Hoddle’s side had entered this Tournament enthusiastically and benefited from better preparation as they played a World Cup qualifier just days before the Tournament.
England employed a 3-5-2 formation with Gareth Southagte acting as deep lying sweeper, partnered with Gary Neville and Sol Campbell in defense and Le Saux (left) and Phil Neville (right) as overlapping backs.
Hoddle felt with three at the back, there were more options in playing out of defense with five midfielders ahead of them to find.
Southgate praised this system as it gave extra depth and cover when defending. He believed at this level teams could no longer gamble with the offside trap.
French Manager Claude Le Roy (analyzing for ‘France Football’ magazine) was surprised as and noted it was unprecedented for an England National Team to organize to the function of the opposition. He remarked how in the past the English would mark individually with no collective organization.

Photo From: Guerin Sportivo, Issue 1150 (Number 24), June 13-18, 1997
(Alan Shearer, June 10, 1997, Le Tournoi, Brazil 1-England 0)

Michel Platini felt the English were trying to play a type of football symbolized by Hoddle the player. He did warn they must be patient, as it will take 3-4 years for the “metamorphosis” to be total.
He also felt, in the Italy-England match that Eric Cantona’s influence had robbed off on the Manchester United youth.
The likes of Seaman, Shearer and Ince confirmed their status in the National Team.
The Team had many revelations most notably Paul Scholes and Sol Campbell, not to mention the likes of Beckham and the Neville Brothers.
A major disappointment was Teddy Sheringham up front.
Paul Gascoigne was also a major topic of discussion amongst the English. Senior England Football Writer Brian Glanville singled him out as a ‘spent force Internationally’ and a ‘liability’.
He pointed out incidents where he failed to service Shearer in better position in the match vs. Brazil and his reckless booking vs. Italy.
He would be proven right next year when Gascoigne would be dropped in a much talked about incident where he destroyed Hoddle’s room and had to be restrained after receiving the news that he was dropped from the World Cup. The player who had enraptured the World in 1990 with his youthful exuberance was no more as years of injuries had taken their toll physically and mentally.
Hoddle stated that he had learned a lot from these games and had the chance to look at different players and formations.
He said, “I never doubted the value of coming here, People who said we could gain nothing from it were wrong. There are only 12 months to go to the World Cup, and we can have learned some valuable lessons and made a lot of progress.”
He described the experience as a ‘great education’ and ‘irreplaceable high level experience’ for a lot of players.
He even considered the loss to Brazil, as disappointing as it was, as an extra lesson. He acknowledged the gap with Brazil but confident that it could be bridged.
He noted the improvements and growing confidence of Sol Campbell, Scholes and labeled Ince as the “best in the business” and even better player than before.
He also praised Phil Neville for playing superbly at wingback, which was a position he did not play at club level.
Hoddle was equally satisfied for the new found respect from abroad.
Hoddle felt necessary to urge caution, saying if England did not qualify for World Cup all this would have been for naught
England’s win over Italy gave them the psychological edge they needed ahead of their qualifier in October. They came away with a creditable scoreless tie in Rome an earned qualification as Group winners.

It is hard to believe that in over a year the opening match of the ‘Tournoi’ would consist of the two finalists of the World Cup.
France would win its first World Cup be defeating Brazil (3-0). It is safe to assume that the experience of ‘Le Tournoi’ must have had a part in France’s quest to win the ultimate prize.
Certainly in 1997, not many would have predicted this (least of all the French themselves)
In the end this competition will always be remembered for submitting to the History of the Game two events that are sure to live in Memory: Roberto Carlos’ free kick and Brazil-Italy (3-3) match.

1-Just prior to start of the Tournament, France had to resolve an issue with their kit manufacturers’ Adidas. 15 out of the 22 French players had personal boot contracts with firms other than Adidas and wanted to honor those contracts.
In the end the collective contract with Adidas won out as French Federation President Claude Simone threatened the players with of legal and financial sanctions. The players backed down and accepted to wear Adidas until the 1998 World Cup.
Jacquet stated, “The collective contract overrules personal ones… For me this issue is closed. I do not want to hear about it. I just want to hear tactics and positioning.”
Laurent Blanc remarked that only France and Germany had this type of collective contract, which showed how behind the times they are.
Per another source, it was agreed that the players could still wear their personalized boots but remove the logos of the other brand and paint the three stripes of Adidas.

2-‘France Football’ Magazine rated the French players’ performances in ‘Le Tournoi’ as follows:
Satisfactory: Desailly, Lizarazu, Ba, Blanc, Leboeuf, Barthez, N’Gotty
Average: Deschamps, Thuram, Zidane, Djorkaeff, Dugarry, Vieira, Laigle, Keller, Charbonnier
Poor: Maurice, Ouedec, Candela, Karembeu, Pires, Loko

3-The Wall of Legends at Lyon’s Stade Gerland used to cover redevelopment work contained the following 32 players:
Florian Albert, Gordon Banks, George Best, Zbigniew Boniek, Antonio Carvajal, Bobby Charlton, Johann Cruyff, Didi, Alfredo Di Stefano, Eusebio, Just Fontaine, Garrincha, Gento, Raymond Kopa, Ladoslao Kubala, Sepp Maier, Diego Maradona, Stanley Matthews, Roger Milla, Gerd Muller, Johann Neeskens, Daniel Passarella, Pele, Michel Platini, Ferenc Puskas, Roberto Rivelino, Juan Schiaffino, Luis Suarez, Marco Van Basten, Lev Yashin, Zico, Dino Zoff
This list included three players did not play at any World Cup: George Best, Alfredo Di Stefano, Ladislao Kubala.

4-After watching England-Italy on Television, Inter boss Massimo Moratti met with Ronaldo’s representatives to finalize his signing from Barcelona.
After agreeing to his release clause, Barcelona representatives countered that the clause only applied to teams in Spain.
Ronaldo responded that when he signed the clause with Barcelona Vice-President Gaspart, it was understood that it was for all clubs. He also added that now Catalan fans would understand why he wanted to leave Barcelona and that from the beginning he had been cheated by President Nunez.
The Transfer would go through nonetheless.

5-Other players also transferred just before, during and after the 'Tournoi':
France: Ibrahima Ba (AC Milan), Laurent Blanc (Olympqiue Marseille), Bixente Lizarazu (Bayern Munich), Florian Maurice (PSG)
Brazil: Ronaldo (Inter), Cafu (Roma), Djalminha (Deportivo La Coruna), Edmundo (Fiorentina), Leonardo (AC Milan)
England: Paul Ince (Liverpool), Teddy Sheringham (Manchester United)
Italy: Filippo Inzaghi (Juventus), Christian Vieri (Atletico Madrid), Giampiero Maini (AC Milan), Attilio Lombardo (Crystal Palace)

6-Italy’s Eusebio Di Francesco joined squad on June 1st.  He had to leave the squad as Piacenza had a Relegation Play-off match vs. Cagliari on June 14. Attilio Lombardo replaced him in the Italian squad.

7-French goalkeeper Christophe Revault (Le Havre, and soon PSG) had to be called up from his vacation to cover as a goalkeeper for France’s last match vs. Italy as Fabien Barthez was injured.

8-Prior to France’s match vs., England, the stadium announcer made a number of errors in announcing the English players’ names, such as:
Gareth Thouthgate, Brian Le Saux, David Sheringham, Martin Cone.

9-‘France Football’ Magazine selected the following as the Team of the Tournament:
David Seaman (England), Robero Carlos (Brazil), Gareth Southgate (England), Marcel Desailly (France), Cafu (Brazil), Paul Ince (England), Demetrio Albertini (Italy), David Beckham (England), Alessandro Del Piero (Italy), Romario (Brazil), Ronado (Brazil)
Substitutes: Fabien Barthez (France), Paolo Maldini (Italy), Flavio Conceição (Brazil), Denilson (Brazil), Alan Shearer (England)

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2670 bis, June 13, 1997
(Team of the Tournament)

10-‘Onze-Mondial’ Magazine selected the following as the Team of the Tournament:
Fabien Barthez (France), Cafu (Brazil), Sol Campbell (England), Laurent Blanc (France), Robero Carlos (Brazil), Ibrahima Ba (France), Denilson (Brazil), Paul Ince (England), Alessandro Del Piero (Italy), Romario (Brazil), Alan Shearer (England)

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 102, July 1997
(Team of the Tournament)

11-‘Guerin Sportivo’ Magazine selected the following as the Team of the Tournament:
Gianluca Pagliuca (Italy) Cafu (Brazil), Laurent Blanc (France), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), Robero Carlos (Brazil), Ibrahima Ba (France), Paul Ince (England), Carlos Dunga (Brazil), Denilson (Brazil), Ronado (Brazil), Alessandro Del Piero (Italy)
Substitutes: Fabien Barthez (France), Gary Neville (England), Paul Scholes (England), Romario (Brazil)

Photo From: Guerin Sportivo, Issue 1150 (Number 24), June 13-18, 1997

(Team of the Tournament)

England Expects, A History of the England Football Team, Author James Corbett, 2006
France Football, Issue 2669, June 3, 1997
France Football, Issue 2669 bis, June 6, 1997
France Football, Issue 2670, June 10, 1997
France Football, Issue 2670 bis, June 13, 1997
France Football, Issue 2671, June 17, 1997
Goal, Issue 23, August 1997
Guerin Sportivo, Issue 1150 (Number 24), June 13-18, 1997
L’Equipe, L’Equipe de France de Football, la Belle Histoire
L'Annee du Football, 1997
L'Integrale de L'Equipe de France de Football, Authors J.M. and Pierre Cazal, Michel Oreggia, 1998
Le Livre D'or du Football 1997, Author Gerard Ejnes
Onze-Mondial, Hors Serie 25, June 1997
Onze-Mondial, Hors Serie 27, April 1998
Onze-Mondial, Issue 102, July 1997
Shoot, June 21, 1997
Three Lions on the Shirt, Playing for England, Author Dave Bowler, 1999
World Soccer, August 1997

No comments:

Post a Comment