Several French teams struggle in early days of Champions League
It's still something of a surprise that only one French side has ever won the European Cup or, as it has been known since 1992, the Champions League -- especially since a Frenchman,
That sole victor was Marseille in 1993 and its captain in the final against AC Milan was
Deschamps could now be forgiven for having second thoughts: before this weekend's match against bottom club Arles-Avignon, Marseille had won only one of their five league matches and on Wednesday it slumped to a shock 1-0 loss at home to Spartak Moscow in its opening group match.
If last season's side was a throwback to the tough-tackling team that Deschamps was part of in 1993 -- giant centre-backs
"We were so unlucky, I'm still asking myself how we lost that," midfielder
Deschamps was criticised for not bringing on substitute
"This is like a nightmare," the coach said.
Gignac only joined Marseille after the club could not find agreement with Sevilla to sign Brazil forward
Marseille is by no means out of contention in Group F yet, though it will now have to take something from the trip to Moscow on Matchday Five. Next up is a visit to the imperious Chelsea, one of Deschamps's former clubs, where, despite the absence of the suspended
Its supposed biggest rivals in Ligue 1, Lyon, was the only French team to win on Matchday One, beating ten-man Schalke 1-0, but has its own problems to cope with. One win from its five league games is its worst start to a season since 1995 and
Four Lyon players were part of France's World Cup shambles and have struggled to shake off its effects.
Last season's Player of the Year,
There is less pressure on France's third Champions League representative, Auxerre, back in the competition for the first time since 2002, but drawn in the toughest of groups alongside Real Madrid, AC Milan and Ajax. Still, it gave Milan a fright at the San Siro, hitting the crossbar and missing a chance on the counter before
It is of course early days in the season, and a run of wins will quickly push any of these teams up the Ligue 1 table. Marseille and Lyon are still the teams to beat for the title but their early problems have at least given hope to outsiders like Lille and Rennes. As for the Champions League, a repeat of last season's performance -- with two French teams in the last eight and one in the last four -- already seems too much to ask.