OK, Honduras were hardly the world-beating opposition France had any right to fear.
But tonight’s was a solid opening game for les Bleus, deprived of Ribery by needle warfare -on Bayern medical advice, he wouldn’t take a cortisone injection, launching a new Franco-German conflict – and since I spend half the year in France, and have half a family that is French, I am pleased.
Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick – a penalty, the first goal awarded in a World Cup game using goal-line technology and a powerful shot for his third – and France deserved no less. At least I had it as a hat-trick’ it seems a little harsh to describe the second as an own goal off the keeper, but that is how it appears to be.
Whether two or three, it was for Benzema a perfect answer to those who keep reminding him of the 1,222 minutes he played for France without finding the net.
From @KhaledBeydoun at Twitter comes this Benzema quote: “If I score, I am French…if I don’t, I am Arab. That’s sadly how it works.” As I said in a reply: place of birth Lyon, nationality French and let’s hope every Le Pen is choking – metaphorically – on his or her croissant this morning.
I have seen Honduras described as thuggish – Didier Deschamps was a little more diplomatic in his immediate post-match comments – and it is fair to say, at the very least, that their tactical plan was not strictly Corinthian.
For now, the disgraceful antics of the 2010 French squad in South Africa can be forgotten. But if England depart early and France start looking like 2014 World Cup winners, I may need to leave the country.