France Struggles Mightily In Loss To Ukraine In World Cup Playoffs

By Juan Pablo Aravena
Witters Sport – USA Today Sports

France is surprisingly in the European playoff round after finishing second in the group to Spain. Due to their history and potent squad, most of the experts were already placing them in Brazil next year.

That’s a long shot right now after their poor outing against Ukraine, where they not only lost, but were also over-matched as they dropped the first leg by a 2-0 score.

What’s going on in France is quite the cause for concern. Despite having one of the best teams in the world in terms of individual quality and a good manager in Laurent Blanc, Les Blues never seems able to put things together.

It was no different today, as they couldn’t get past a tough Ukrainian squad that took advantage of the spaces left by France in the second half, where they found the back of the net twice. Roman Zozulya and Andrei Yarmolenko got the goals, but what’s really troubling for France is the level of play showed in what was arguably the team’s biggest match of the year.

Franck Ribery was a ghost of the decisive player he was for Bayern Munich, and Karim Benzema continued with the struggles he faced with Real Madrid this year. Hugo Lloris had nothing to do in the goals, and the defense was suspect at best; Laurent Koscielny even got sent off in the dying minutes of the match.

France needs to turn things around quickly if they want to have a chance to participate in Brazil’s tournament next year. They will need to discount the two-goal different in Paris where they will have the support of their fans, but that might not be enough if they repeat today’s performance.

Juan Pablo Aravena is a sports writer for Follow him on Twitter @jparavenarant or add him to your network on Google

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