Just as French President Nicolas Sarkozy meets with British Prime Minister Gorden Brown, so do France and England face off in football for another chapter in an historic rivalry.
Monday, at Clairefontaine, training camp for the Blues, Nicolas Anelka –one of the many French who played in the English Championships of the exalted premier league – states, “The France-England matches are never friendly.”
According to Darren Tulett, an English journalist for Canal Plus, “The English are historically ill-disposed to thinking of this as a friendly match.” Vincent Duluc, journalist for the sports daily l’Equipe, has a more tempered view. “these games are a chance for these great nations to meet and see how they measure up.”
For the French team, this will be the final step before the European Championships (June 7-29, 2008, in
William the Conquerer
For the English, which has rested on the laurels of star players like Beckham or Gerrard, they will now have to test their mettle with the new coach, Italian Fabio Capello. Capello entered a locker room that was more fodder for magazine readers than for fans of English football.
This friendly match is just one in a long line of matches fraught with hostility, rancor, jealousy, defiance, and mistrust.
The English are still sore about the Norman Conquest of 1066, led by William the Conqueror, who seized the English crown. Darren Tullet remarks, “It was the first French victory overseas, and they’ve never forgotten it.” The French, after all, still celebrate the heroism of Joan of Arc, who crossed swards with the English in the final years of the 100 Years War. (1337-1453)
Then came wars of commerce, navy, land. The French and English finally achieved peace with the accession of Louis-Philippe to the French throne in 1830. Queen
French Flair v. English pragmatism
On Thursday, at Emirates Stadium (the new playing field of the Arsenal Gunners), President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Brown won’t mention all this historical bother. They’ll speak of sports, football, victory.
That is, the victory of trainer-manager Arsen Wenger, who arrived in 1996, and under whose auspices the
Are the English jealous? Tulett says, “Of course they’re jealous of ‘French flair’; however we are surpassed in the area of pragmatism.”
Since the saga of ‘king’ Cantona of Man U, the French have found the English teams an obstacle. The heart of European football is now in the English court. The proof? Among the eight ball clubs in the quarter finals of the Champions League, four are English. None are French.
But, as Tulett reminds us, among these four clubs (Man U,
Date created : 2008-03-26