The French Curse

By | February 9, 2011

It’s one of the oddities of international football: the French team, which often struggles against not-so-great opponents and has had tremendous ups and downs in the last decade, nevertheless seems to have one superpower: they consistently defeat Brazil. If I’m not mistaken, Brazil went undefeated in World Cup play between their loss in the 1998 Final of the World Cup and their less to France in 2006. Today, the two teams faced off in the Stade de France in Paris for the first time since 1998, and the result — a little startlingly — was once again a French victory. Brazil opened well, and seemed like the might well control the game, until a red card for a cleat to the chest of  Benzema reshaped the game, ultimately irreparably. The French team played well, certainly, and probably deserved the win — though I’m not sure they would have come out ahead against eleven players rather than ten. Both teams are certainly in a “re-building” phase, but a few months ago most would have predicted that France would probably take much longer to build themselves out of the Domenech-dug hole. Yet today the seemed like a very different team, and with defeats of England and Brazil in their wake one can imagine (though this is always hazardous) that they are on their way to make a significant showing in the upcoming European Cup, and the 2014 World Cup. Brazil, of course — as everyone keeps repeating — pretty much has to win that competition. If they want to make sure they do, though, the ideal would be for some far less threatening team to defeat France so that the two don’t have to meet up — just in case there really is a cosmic rule that says that about the only team that you should actually expect to beat Brazil is France.

Category: Brazil France World Cup

About Laurent Dubois

I am Professor of Romance Studies and History and the Director of the Forum for Scholars & Publics at Duke University. I founded the Soccer Politics blog in 2009 as part of a course on "World Cup and World Politics" taught at Duke University. I'm currently teaching the course under the title "Soccer Politics" here at Duke. My books include Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France (University of California Press, 2010) and The Language of the Game: How to Understand Soccer (Basic Books, 2018)

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