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Breaking Down the Cup - by Brandi Chastain

In the Classroom of the 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan, F is for France

Nowhere in the travel brochure for the 2002 World Cup did it say to bring your textbooks and study hard. Too bad for France, who could have used some tutoring, as they were taken to school by Denmark in a match that eliminated the reigning World Cup champions after a first round in which, amazingly, they did not score a goal.

It always seems that you overlook the minor details because, well, they seem to be minor. In this World Cup, France should have "studied" a bit harder and brushed up on their art, simple math, theology and chemistry as those subjects would be the key to World Cup success.

First,the art of soccer. The Danes seemed to have the perfect combination of the abstract, modern and classical. The Danes set up a beautiful canvas and painted a picture that will be remembered as a historic piece. They stroked the brush up the left side, they stroked it up the right, and then when it counted most, a masterpiece of two worthy goals were painted in the middle. They have been an exemplary model of modern day futbol players....strong, physically dominant, and confident. With likes of Jon Dahl Tomasson, the Danes have received their first A on their report card in the art of soccer.

The study of philosophy and theology is ingrained as much into the fabric of soccer as is the physiological component. France – as well as the rest of the world - were once again reminded that man is in fact mortal. Even the indomitable Zinidine Zidane couldn't shake that reality and provide a miracle for his country men. In this course, the French, like the rest of the world, will have to come to grips that forces beyond human nature rule the universe, and even the deft touches and silky smooth runs of a demi-god named Zidane can't change what is called fate.

From the abstract of theology to the limits of simple math ... Again, the Danes shine, receiving an A, whereas the French floundered, unable to put one and one together to secure a two-goal differential. It would seem that the starting 11 of France, facing the starting 11 of Denmark would equal 3 points and therefore a place in the 2nd round. Instead, France came up with the null set and are on their way home (if they dare set foot in Paris).

Lastly, moving onto the most important class on the schedule, a class that France, even with all the homework they have done in the past, couldn't cram enough for to overcome -- Chemistry 101. I said it before the Cup and I will say it again - without chemistry a team can't progress in a huge tournament like this. France learned that first hand in Korea/Japan. Zidane, the greatest midfielder in the Cup, couldn't help his team from the sideline, and by the time he had a chance to be a part of the match, the inertia that occurs on the soccer field had already grabbed hold and couldn't be shaken. Denmark, on the other hand, owned the periodic table, struck Au (gold to you non-chemistry guru's out there) and won the group.

Following is the Report Card from that France-Denmark match:

Art of soccer
Denmark: A
France: C+ (They did manage to hit the crossbar and post 4 or 5 times)

Denmark: A
France: C- (They had only one player that believed - he even has the haircut of a monk - but it wasn't meant to be)

Simple Math
Denamark: A+ (Only needed one point to advance and got three)
France: F (Needed three points to advance - got none)

Denmark: A
France: C- (Had some good combinations, but couldn't put it together in the end)

Denmark: 4.0
France: 1.5