French team is facing a mountain of a target on Sunday if the team wants to win 2011 World Cup. They have to get over the formidable hosts All Blacks New Zealand in the finals. They somehow won their semifinals through a bit of referee help and some tardy Wales play. The ultimate result was 9-8 in their favor. However, that sporting performance will fall in the basket against All Blacks even if New Zealand plays to half its potential.
Marc Lievremont should have motivated his players through some smart words but he chose to be sarcastic and critical of his players. Maxime Medard received some harsh words in the middle of semifinals but that can be attributed to the cliffhanger position then. However, Alan Rougeries is being repeatedly grilled, and to his dismay, even the tabloids are having fun at his expense. Lock Lionel Mallet is also facing constant criticism and their curfew celebration after the semifinal has not gone well with the coach. Lievremont is renowned for calling a spade a spade and has cleared it that such behavior won’t do the team any good in the finals.
Les Blues France can take heart from the fact that they beat New Zealand in the quarterfinals in 2007 and in the semifinals 8 years earlier. However, New Zealand, clearly at ease with the chilling conditions at home, have grouped up to be the most potent side in the tournament and have won all their games with lots to spare. France has also won all their encounters but their scrum play and lack of mobility leaves a big question mark.
Players have suggested that they will take the coach and tabloid criticism in their stride and gel over to win the battle. However, there is bound to be a mental block when someone suspects your capabilities.