A trip out to St. Denis last night to watch France host Argentina in a friendly international, their first meeting since March 1986, when the French, minus Michel Platini beat the future world champions, captained by Diego Maradona, 2-0 at the Parc des Princes. A combination of delayed RER trains and a deep-felt conviction amongst our number that we had time for one last drink on the way to the stadium (I was the only Irish person there, I must point out) resulted in our being ten minutes late. Our seats had by then been occupied by other people whose own places had in turn been nabbed. As the game was already in full swing I was happy enough to take the ten contiguous places too rows up but a Canadian friend was having none of it - 'it wouldn't happen in hockey', he muttered disapprovingly. As it happened, we got our rightful seats back at half-time, which were, in my opinion, not as good as the other ones.
The match itself was a wretched spectacle, served up by two of the best teams in the world at the moment. Argentina went ahead after fifteen minutes when Javier Saviola pounced on a ball that had been parried by Grégory Coupet and thereafter they were happy to hoof the ball up to Crespo - or sometimes just up in the air. When an Argentinian team's best passer is their goalkeeper - Roberto Abbondanzieri, you feel like asking for your money back. As for France, they were surprisingly short of ideas and had very little way past a well-marshalled Argentine defence. Despite the industry of Franck Ribéry, the French game was route one, balls spread out to an overlapping Willy Sagnol followed by a hopeful cross into the six-yard-box. Awful stuff.