Holland v. France in Red & White
This was a game that had always held a great deal of promise with the array of present and former gunners on offer despite reports of discord in the French dressing room prior to the match when Lassana Diarra demanded a transfer to Mali unless he gets more playing time.
The first half was a cagey affair with only the one current gunner Billy Gallas on show. Gallas marshalled a defence shorn of the quality that Sagna and Clichy would have given as best he could. Graciously, the humble Arsenal captain had persuaded Thuram to wear the captain`s armband in what would surely be his last major tournament. Having gone a goal down Gallas exerted his side to greater effort and they showed a little more spirit in the second half with his brave words at half time no doubt ringing in their ears.
Evra, whose parents were thought to be gooner supporters having christened him after the Arsenal full back legend and assistant manager PatRice, began to exert an influence from his position at full back. Without the benefit of the sophisticated training levels available at the Arsenal University of Football Henry, a shadow of the player created there, missed an excellent chance to equalise. Urged by former gunner Gio van Bronckhorst the Dutch coach finally brought on van Persie. Within minutes of his appearance he had converted a difficult chance with an unstoppable volley despite Coupets best efforts. Overcome with admiration for his game turning feat the Dutch team rushed to honour their saviour while Gallas once more tried to rally his deflated side.
Responding to Gallas` prompting Henry momentarily rolled back the years and using reflexes developed at his former club proved that a good education is never wasted as he deftly finished a chance. However van Persies impact on the attacking prowess of the Dutch side was palpable as Robben instantly restored their lead. Gallas continued to urge his side forward despite the lack of support around him. Anelka came on but having dropped out of his course before it's completion at Arsenal he was unable to effect the same impact as the more committed students of the game. An uphill struggle was ended as deep in injury time another piece of consummate skill put the final nail in the French coffin.
Having trotted down the right hand side looking to waste time the horse-faced former graduate of the Old Trafford Diving School, van Nistelroy, finally released the ball with an overhit pass to van Persie. Robin brought a difficult ball under instant control and released an unerringly accurate pass to Sneijder on the edge of the area. The perfectly weighted ball was easily collected. Showing a remarkable turn of pace van Persie burst into the box. His imposing figure attracted French defenders like flies to a cows` arse with the obvious exception of Gallas, the only defender to hold his position correctly. Sneijder took full advantage of the space created and was left with the simple task of putting the ball in the net.
Gallas counselled each of his team-mates in defeat as man of the match van Persie received the acclaim of the Dutch hordes promising to play as much as 45 minutes if called upon next time.