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Friday, June 18, 2010
France team ripped for loss to Mexicans

Associated Press

PARIS -- "Catastrophe!" says one French commentator.

"Pathetic!" says the front-page headline on France's most read tabloid.

It was all glum faces and angry media in France on Friday after the team's 2-0 loss to Mexico on Thursday, a defeat that makes Les Bleus a long shot to advance at the World Cup.

It's a far cry from the victory party on Paris' Champs-Elysees when the team led by Zinedine Zidane won the 1998 Cup in the nearby Stade de France. Or even 2006, when France made it to the final before losing to Italy when Zidane was infamously ejected for delivering a head-butt late in the match.

Outgoing coach Raymond Domenech is getting the bulk of the criticism after Thursday's game.

The daily L'Equipe calls the team "The Impostors." Morning talk shows were dominated by former athletes, politicians from left and right, and many others -- all trashing Les Bleus' performance.

France's most influential sports daily views the game as "one of the worst slaps … ever inflicted to the French team under the Domenech era."

The loss, coming after a dull 0-0 draw against Uruguay, means France will need a lot of help to get out of the first round.

L'Equipe's front page says this "minute hope" doesn't even matter.

"Let's have no sadness or desolation, and even less anger," it said. "That would be giving too much to a team that has nothing to offer."

The national team captain seemed to agree.

"We're not a big team," defender Patrice Evra told L'Equipe.

Many French viewers agreed with the media's dismissal of the national team.

An advertisement in the tabloid Le Parisien tried to laugh off the matter with a jibe at Domenech's expense.

"Do like Raymond: Prepare your holidays!" says an ad for TV sets.

France defender Bixente Lizarazu said Evra's insistence that "everything's fine, we're confident, all is well within the squad" merely served to "hide that things were not going well."

In three major tournaments under Domenech, France has won only four of 12 matches. Including Euro 2008, France has won none of its last five games, scoring just one goal and allowing eight.

"The France team plays in the image of its coach. He's not good; we're not good," former France winger Robert Pires said on French television.