Strip Club—Feature Dancer Edition

France 98 was the first World Cup that I watched extensively, even more than USA 94, which was in my home country. that summer I was living with my parents, had no job, and basically woke up and watched double and triple headers during the Group Stage. It was heaven.  I particularly followed France because a) they were the hosts and got tons of coverage; b) the US was having a nightmare (thanks Steve Sampson); and c) Juventus had several stars on the team, which gave me a natural connection.

zinedinezidane

Deschamps and Zidane were part of a fantastic cycle of Bianconeri teams which went to the Champions League Final three years in a row and reached the semis the year after before being rebuilt in 2001. Zidane was in imperious form at the time, dazzling for both club and country. Deschamps controlled the midfield, generating service for Guivarch, Henry and Trezeguet, and protecting a back line that was already quite strong. The Final was spectacular for the hosts, with Zidane famously knocking in two headers and Petit adding a third.

trezeguet

Two years on, the World Cup winners travelled to Euro 2000 in Holland and Belguim. I bought the entire tournament on PPV (those were the days) and watched nearly every game live. What a tournament. Spain’s comeback against Yugoslavia; England collapsing against Portugal; impressive performances from Slovenia; Holland’s demolition of Yugoslavia in the quarters; a fantastic game between France and Spain with goals of great quality and a tragic PK miss from Raul; and a gripping final, in which Italy had one hand on the trophy but couldn’t finish the job. A goal from Wiltord forced extra time, during which Trezeguet scored a Golden Goal to win.

france-2000

(image courtesy of Historical Kits)

On the fashion front, French jerseys have been hit and miss over the years. The mid-90’s kits were cool, if a bit shiny, and I hated the 1998 jersey, but immediately bought the Euro 2000 home kit, which has become one of my favorites. I love this jersey because it is simple and clean in design. The royal blue is a perfect shade and has an understated red stripe across the chest.  The above image shows the traditional tricolor layout, and I would prefer blue shorts and white socks to complete the strip but the red socks aren’t too bad. While the jersey is a little heavy (you sweat like a dog if it’s 70+ degrees but Under Armor takes care of that), the best part is that you pop the collar, channel your inner Zidane, and you are good to go.

The jerseys of the first decade of the 21st century have had some winners and losers, with the highlights being Euro 2004 (a hazy version of 2000) and World Cup 2006 (a pretty sweet adidas template). The kit for the 2010 World Cup wasn’t too bad but was worn by a disaster of a team. Here is a sampling of jerseys from 1980 to 2010.

While France have been disappointing since Zidane led them to the World Cup 2006 Final, I’m hoping this latest generation can recapture the spirit of the 1998/2000 team. Blanc has led the team to the European Championships, drawn in a group with Ukraine, Sweden and England, and now they must find the right mix of players and the right mentality to make the knockout stages. Allez les Bleus.

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