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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 13 hours ago
Read
Feb 5, 2008

Mission impossible

David Trezeguet is currently starring in an advert for his boot sponsor, earning his undisclosed six-figure fee by proudly stating, 'Impossible is nothing.' That may well be true, but while the Juventus striker may fancy himself as a bit of a miracle-worker in front of goal, he could add, 'You should try getting into the France team' as it looks unlikely that even divine intervention will be enough to allow him to play at Euro 2008 this summer.

France coach Raymond Domenech is an unpredictable man at the best of times, but the omission of Serie A top scorer Trezeguet from the 36-man squad he named for this week's friendlies with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Spain was a decision even the most perceptive of crystall-ball gazers would have struggled to anticipate.

The aim of calling up such an array of 'talent' for the A team game against the Africans before the full side meet the Spaniards a day later was, as Domenech himself explained, to be able to see as many players as possible with a view to pulling a Dali-esque selection out of the hat for Euro 2008 à la Pascal Chimbonda for the 2006 World Cup (the Spurs full-back not included here, by the way).

It seems though that despite the inclusion of Rennes' promising but uncapped and unproven Jimmy Briand and the consistently inconsistent Dijbril Cissé alongside shoo-ins Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry and Karim Benzema, Trezeguet does not merit a game.

'I don't need to test him in these conditions to know what he can do,' Domenech told the nation by way of explanation for Trezegol's absence, but if that's the case, why are Henry - who recently became France's all-time leading scorer - and Anelka there? Doesn't he know what they can do yet?

Henry and Anelka are one of the main reasons Trezeguet has found himself forced increasingly towards the fringes of the squad.

Much has been made of Trezeguet's inability to gel with Henry - seen, rightly, as 'one of the first names on the teamsheet - with their pitiful collective performance in a friendly against Argentina in early 2007 the death knell of their collaboration and the start of Trezeguet's troubles.

The re-emergence of Anelka - who finally looks as if he'll play a major tournament for his country after missing World Cups and Euros from 1998 to 2006 - and his greater on-pitch understanding with Henry means Trezeguet had already been reduced to the role of a bit-part player.

Trezeguet played in A side which beat Slovakia in August, but this time round when texted by Domenech - Don Fabio called Beckham, spot the difference in class - on how he felt about once again turning out alongside the Murdoch, Face and BA Baracus' of French football, the Juve man replied - again via a text - saying he would no longer be available for the A side, backing up his decision with his stats for the season, which are more impressive than a Page 3 model's.

After a year in Serie B, Trezeguet happened to mention that he is currently at the top of the Serie A scoring charts with 15 in 21, taking his tally in a bianconero shirt to 110 in 172 games. He didn't add - but could have - that he has 34 in 70 internationals - making him France's third all-time leading scorer - and you can see that he's got a point.

'Euro 2008? I don't fancy my chances much,' the man who scored the golden goal in the Euro 2000 final said in an interview after the squad had been announced. 'Contrary to what [Domenech] has said in the past, namely that players would be judged on performances with their clubs, he seems to choose players that fit his system.'

Perhaps the last phrase is the most telling. Trezeguet is not a modern striker. He's not mobile, he doesn't fit into the 'we defended as a team' ethos, and he's not 'as happy making goals as scoring them.' He's a throwback to the 80s, the times of the likes of Ian Rush, John Aldridge, Gary Lineker, Emilio Butragueno, Jean-Pierre Papin and Rudi Voeller, a player the French describe as a 'fox in the box.'

But Domenech generally favours a lone striker - a role reserved for Henry, and certainly not for the heavy-legged Trezeguet - or a 4-4-2 with play built through the middle of the pitch. With Henry suspended, Domenech did try Trezeguet in this formation alongside Anelka in the Euro 2008 qualifier defeat to Scotland in September. Trezeguet proved ineffective, though he was not alone in that respect and was never given the service he requires from out wide or the clever little through balls served up on a regularly basis by Alessandro del Piero in Turin.

It may be asking a lot to base the whole team around Trezeguet to the detriment of the likes of Henry, Anelka and the sensational Benzema, but surely a man of the goalscoring potential of Trezeguet is worth having in the squad.

Trezeguet is not alone in being left out in the cold. Roma's in-form right-sided midfielder Ludovic Giuly, who missed out on the 2006 World Cup despite winning La Liga and the Champions League with Barcelona, has probably already popped down the travel agents' to get the best June deals after Domenech said there would be no replacement called up for injured right-sided midfielder Franck Ribéry.

Robert Pires is another who, despite some fine displays for Villarreal, will not - like a retired origami-ist - be returning to the fold after his public revelation that, 'We're disappointed with Domenech,' after an early encounter with the new French coach back in 2004.

While those high-profile omissions may go a little way to soothing Trezeguet's wounded pride, his mood will hardly have been helped by one name who was included.

Despite having played only 160 minutes of football for Juventus this season, former Newcastle 'defender' Jean-Alain Boumsong - freshly signed to French champions Lyon - will be pulling on some sort of blue shirt.

Ironically, had he chosen to play for Argentina - the country of his parents' birth and where he grew up - it is hardly likely Trezeguet would be facing the same predicament given the South Americans' penchant for an out-and-out goalscorer.

However, should France get anywhere near the Euro 2008 final in Vienna, Domenech will be certain of keeping his cosy office at the Paris FA HQ in Paris for another couple of years, and leaving the now-30-year-old Trezeguet to play out the dwindling twilight of his career in club football.


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