South Africa is not a country that Patrice Evra will look back on fondly. After all the rainbow-nation was the scene of the Manchester United left-back’s lowest-point in his career when under his captaincy France finished bottom of their group and imploded under their controversial manager Raymond Domenech.
Immediately after the tournament there were consequences as a result of the meltdown. The head of the French Football Federation resigned. Domenech was sacked. Laurent Blanc was appointed manager and the first thing the former world cup winner did was request that the Federation suspend all 23 players who were part of the World Cup squad for his first match in charge away to Norway.
Evra’s suspension was increased to five games for his part in the meltdown and some doubted whether the athletic defender would ever play for his country again. He would earn a recall back to the squad six months later and has been a regular ever since competing for the left-back spot alongside Manchester City’s Gael Clichy.
Euro 2012 see’s an opportunity for Evra to make up for his actions and truly say sorry to the French public who despite not being too fond of Domenech during his spell in charge were highly embarrassed by the catastrophe that was their campaign in South Africa. He has the experience and reading of a game should help the rest of his defence who have little to none tournament experience.
After having a poor game against Iceland last Sunday when he was at fault for both of Iceland’s goals in a game that France won 3-2, many believe Evra has hurt his chances of starting in Les Blues first match of Euro 2012 against England in Donetsk on June 11.
That may well be the case but he would have to have ‘shockers’ against Serbia and Estonia in upcoming friendly’s for Clichy to get the nod ahead of him, that’s despite the Manchester City man coming off the back of an impressive season in which he kept out Aleksander Kolarov – one of Roberto Mancini’s favourites – out of the side.
France who are 19 games unbeaten in all competitions, have enough quality to advance out of the group stages and into the knock-out stages. The first game with England is the crunch game for both sides. Lose and you cannot afford to drop any more points, meaning that matches against Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine become even tougher.
For Evra at 31, this may well be his final appearance at a major tournament. With Clichy five years younger ready to become the first-choice left-back and with promising youngsters coming through you would understand if Blanc kindly moved him aside. That may well be a good thing allowing him to concentrate on his club-career with United, only time can tell.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87