I was so looking forward to not watching you tomorrow. I was going to sleep tonight, dreaming happy dreams of not watching your crappy-ass team play crappy-ass South Africa to see who sucks slightly less.
I loved you once, France. Was it only a dozen years ago when Jean-Marie Le Pen called you "Les Noirs," and you brought the World Cup home - well, technically, kept it home - well, technically, didn't allow it to leave the country. Who could fail to love such a glorious, democratic, multi-racial symbol of joy and accomplishment?
Well, Brazil, and hundreds upon hundreds of millions of their fellow-travellers. But I fiercely defended you, my little blue darlings. When you were accused of poisoning Ronaldo (note to our younger readers - not that one. No, not that one either), who was the first to say, "Yeah? Who poisoned Leonardo when he was supposed to be covering Zidane on corner kicks?"
Did 2002 shake my faith? No, because I was too busy paying attention to the US to care. But when 2006 rolled around, was I not there, by your side?
No, actually, I wasn't - I thought Brazil was going to eat your snails for you. But I made sure I scrambled back onto your bandwagon - my heart broke into blue, white and red pieces when Zidane received his red card.
And here we are today, four years later. Didi, Lili, Zizou - where are you now? Well, Zizou, like Eric le Roi before him, is making commercials that, in the words of Voltaire, make no ********ing sense at all. But your successors have let you down. France has gone from tout le monde to tout le merde. Or is it la merde? Stupid Romantic languages, assigning a gender to feces, what the hell is WRONG with you people?
I gave you a chance. I watched you twice. You sucked liberally, you sucked equally, you sucked fraternally. In a more enlightened age, a guillotine would await you all in the Place de la Concorde. Mathematics of possible third game advancement scenarios be damned - there was no way I was going to waste any more time watching you baisez vers la haut. Especially in a background of cats being raped in B flat.
Oh, you tried to win back my interest. If you couldn't charm me with artistry and skill, you would try low comedy. I resisted you, too, you and your French wiles. Headlines like "France resume training" only inspired responses like "Why start now?" Releasing your antics on videotape? Wrong Paris, mes amis, wrong Paris entirely.
But now I have to watch.
What position does Bachelot play?
Tomorrow morning, then, I will find an Irish bar, and listen to the cruel gales of laughter. Entirely justified laughter. Like they would have done better.
Because they would have. Eleven Irishmen picked at random would have done better.
No wonder the Mandela family didn't want him to attend games. He might die laughing at France.
But what if...what if, while Uruguay are kicking and Mexico are diving (shut the hell up, you know damn well that's what that game is going to be like), eleven French cubs, subs and scrubs make up the goal differential against South Africa? What if France makes the second round? What if they go on a run? What if they go farther?
They'll make a movie out of it, that's what. Eugene Levy will play Raymond Domenech. George Clooney will play Jeremy Toulalan. Tyler Perry will play Florent Malouda. Hugo Lloris will be played by that new Doctor Who. Nicolas Anelka will be the black guy who dies in the first fifteen minutes of every horror movie. It'll be called "Invictus 2: Electric Bleugaloo."
Franck Ribery will probably play himself.
And that's just the first two games of the eight days of all or nothing simulquadrupleheaders? The mind boggles.
Hell, I've been so focused on France, I haven't even begun to guess what strategy Greece will employ against Argentina. Will they put eleven men behind the ball, or will they try to sneak in a twelfth and hope the ref doesn't notice?