SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — France faces Switzerland on the anniversary of its infamous World Cup training ground strike, and a victory in Friday's match will go a long way to closing the darkest chapter in France's football history.
Four years ago in South Africa, the players shamed a nation back home and prompted the fury of politicians when they refused to climb down off the team bus in protest at one of their teammates being sent home.
Confidence has been rebuilt under coach Didier Deschamps and pride in the blue jersey has — seemingly — been restored after some good results.
However, questions remain whether the current side has truly turned the page on June 20, 2010 and Knysna — where the strike took place.
Only four players who from that 2010 World Cup squad remain in this side. One of those, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, is now captain.
"Honestly, we're not thinking at all about what happened in 2010. We're concentrating on what happens tomorrow," Lloris said on Thursday. "All our minds are on this match, what happened is in the past. We're here to continue the adventure as long as possible."
Deschamps looked exasperated that a question about the strike anniversary was asked, shaking his head in disbelief that the inquisition is still lingering.
A handsome win should help end it, as well as give a better indication of how much France has improved. Whoever wins in Salvador takes a giant step toward winning Group E and avoiding a likely clash with Lionel Messi's Argentina in the next round.
The French did not get much of a challenge from Honduras in their opening World Cup match, winning 3-0 against a team that was reduced to 10 men before halftime. This is France's biggest challenge since beating Ukraine 3-0 in November in the second leg of their playoff match after losing 2-0 in the first leg.
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