Wahl_grant
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  • 02:38 PM ET  06.09
Two quick thoughts after France’s dreary 0-0 tie with Romania on Monday ...

Boy, Italy and Holland have a lot to make up for after this waste of 90 minutes. So much for my excitement over the Group of Death. So much for wanting to see France’s Karim Benzema as a center-forward. (He played withdrawn in a 4-2-3-1 instead.) And so much for attacking soccer. France and Romania played like teams that were all too happy to go home with one point and call it a day. That may be a moral victory for Romania, but not so much for France, which had no chemistry at all and often turned simple passes into amateur hour. Give some credit, I suppose, to Romania, which defended well--especially Razvan Rat, who employed an effective strategy on Franck Ribery called knock him on his butt.

Raymond Domenech defines the word overcoaching. I know the French coach has made it to the World Cup final more times (one) than I ever will, and I know Les Bleus was playing without the injured Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry. But it often seems like any French success under Domenech has been despite their coach, not because of him, and he frequently prevents France from reaching its full potential with his own harebrained decisions. Case in point: playing Nicolas Anelka as a lone striker in place of Henry. If Anelka is really France’s best option up top after Henry, then something’s wrong. But we know he’s not. Yet Domenech continues to ignore David Trézéguet, keeping the Juventus sniper on the bench at World Cup ’06 and not even bothering to include him on the roster for Euro 2008. Anelka had zero understanding with his teammates, particularly Ribery, and Les Bleus created almost no real scoring chances against a packed-in Romanian defense.

Through-balls: Just because the 4-2-3-1 is a hot formation among coaches doesn’t mean I have to like it. Far too often it leads to conservative, destructive play in which the two holding midfielders do almost nothing in the way of playing attacking, imaginative soccer. (I’d love to see the U.S. abandon the second holding midfielder against Barbados this weekend and let it fly for once.) ... God, I miss Zinédine Zidane ... Neither Italy nor the Netherlands should have much fear after they see the tape of this game ... Since when did Peppe Pinton give Romania permission to use the New York Cosmos logo on its jerseys? ... If I encounter the term gilt-edged opportunity in print or on the tube one more time, I think I’m going to lose it. It’s kind of like ensuing kick-off in American football: you never hear gilt-edged in any other context. Bottom line: anyone who uses gilt-edged opportunity should have a guilt-edged conscience ... The new ironic/hot jersey to replace your Miroslav Satan sweater: the yellow Romania shirt worn by Razvan Rat ... Nice jacket, Raymond Domenech. When’s it due back at the rental agency?

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