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Soccer

Euro 2012: France Loses But Advances To The Knockout Stage

Will the real France side please show up? In a pathetic display tonight by a team that had not lost in 23 matches, France was completely outclassed by Sweden in a 2-0 loss.

Sweden, who was only playing for pride after they were eliminated from advancing on day two of Group D, would have been moving on had they had just a bit more luck. Honestly, after watching just this game, they should be.

France tonight was very, very passive offensively. Sure, the Swedes were packing the box with eight players, but with France’s skill players, they should have been able to do more.

After a first half in which both teams had very, very good chances on a goal, Sweden manager Erik Hamrén made one of the best moves of the tournament.

From then on, the French had absolutely zero chance of winning this game.

Hamrén inserted Christian Wilhelmsson for Emir Bajrami, and it immediately paid dividends. Wilhelmsson caught the French back four napping, but was called offsides.

Just 10 minutes later though, Sweden would strike first. Sebastian Larsson delivered a cross into the middle and Zlatan Ibrahimović volleyed home one of the best goals of the tournament, leaving French goalie Hugo Llovis without a chance to stop it.

Instead of pushing forward more aggressively, the French continued to be passive when they had the ball. Franck Ribéry, Karim Benzema, and Oliver Giroud had a tough time cracking the Sweden defense.

With Sweden packing the box, France had no idea how to beat it. Whenever they did beat their man, another Swede was right there to help out his teammate, something the French should take not of.

Sweden continued to push forward, all but assuring the French a loss. In the 91st minute, they would get the kill.

Wilhelmsson crossed the ball in where Samuel Holmén was waiting, and volleyed the ball towards the goal. However, he hit the cross bar, but Larsson was there to get the goal of his own.

Down 2-0 in the 91st, the French would have to rely on the English to advance. They would get lucky this time, as England defeated Ukraine 1-0, though the game had a bit of controversy.

Now that the French know they are advancing, they have quite a bit of work to do.

Offensively, they have got to find an identity. Tonight, they stood no chance against a formidable Sweden defense. Unfortunately for them, they now have to face a dominant Spain squad in the quarterfinals.

To win, they are going to have to score goals. To do so, they have to spread the field better. Tonight, they lacked spacing. Being too compact made it easy for Sweden to defend.

Defensively tonight it was a nightmare. Lackadaisical, inconsistent, and incoherent with each other, the back four allowed way too many opportunities for Sweden. Now, they have to go against a dominating offensive team like Spain. Yikes!

Can Les Blues still hoist the Euro 2012 trophy? If they play like they did tonight, they have no chance.

Paul Troupe is the lead writer for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and San Antonio Spurs, while covering many major sports for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter @gamin4HIM