Euro 2016 Diary: Kante on the campaign trail as Paris gets ready to party
It's on to the final for hosts France and Euro 2016 will be all wrapped up in three days' time. What's that N'Golo, four more years?
THE N'GOVAL OFFICE
Ahead of France's triumphant semi-final against Germany, Leicester City midfielder N'Golo Kante showed being shunted out of Didier Deschamps' starting XI had done nothing to dent his assurance by casting himself as United States president Barack Obama alongside some pre-match punning that puts our efforts on this humble diary to shame.
Introduced as a 70th-minute substitute at the Stade Velodrome, Kante selflessly took a yellow card for the team shortly afterwards - bringing down Toni Kroos to halt a Germany attack.
It was the kind of hard-headed, tough decision for the greater good that would probably draw a nod of approval from the leader of the free world himself.
— N'Golo Kanté (@nglkante) July 7, 2016
REMI FOR THE SEMI
France have had some wonderful players over the years - Just Fontaine, Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry to name but four.
The current crop also includes some supremely talented individuals such as Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann.
It's fair to say midfielder Remi Garde was never regarded as being in that class. Yet one France fan was proudly wearing his shirt with the former Aston Villa manager's name on the back prior to the semi-final against Germany in Marseille.
Assuming the aforementioned gentleman wasn't called Monsieur Garde himself, it seemed a strange choice. Garde's stats? Six caps, no goals.
It was also a night for unsung heroes at the Paris fan zone, although the chap wearing a Rod Fanni France shirt might have been inspired by juvenility as much as nobility.
France have had some wonderful players over the years. This fella's gone for the left field option. pic.twitter.com/WKZ6tFqSvt
— Jon Fisher (@fisherjon10) July 7, 2016
GETTING THRIFTY FOR UMTITI
Getting your favourite player's name on the back of your shirt is an expensive business these days.
So, rather than fork out another €20 after learning Samuel Umtiti was set to keep his place in the back four for France's semi-final with Germany on Thursday, one resourceful Les Bleus fan took matters into his own hands.
You can't fault the thought process but the execution requires work...
10/10 for the idea. Nothing more than a 5/10 for the execution. pic.twitter.com/7u7lnU2IWk
— Jon Fisher (@fisherjon10) July 7, 2016
MEANWHILE IN PARIS…
France’s triumph over their old rivals means they will be back in Paris for Sunday’s final and the capital is in the mood for one hell of a party if the scenes at the Eiffel Tower fanzone on Thursday night are anything to go by.
Naturally, Griezmann is the toast of the city, with both of his goals rapturously received - the latter prompting an outpouring of joy that lasted for the rest of the second half. Olivier Giroud was booed for some lumpen good touches - three goals in the tournament, come on folks - but the Arsenal man was cheered off when substituted, shortly after the Parisians stormed through their own take on Iceland’s Viking clap chant.
Drinks were hurled into the air as a spectacular Eiffel Tower light show greeted the final whistle, but amid the revelry a few fans stood taking everything, seemingly overcome with emotion. There were a generation of fans in attendance who have heard all the stories of 1998 and are now brimming with anticipation. This is their time.
— Dom Farrell (@DomFarrell1986) July 7, 2016
NO LOVE LOST FOR BECKER AND GERMANY STRIKERS
If Giroud still endures a mixed relationship with the French public, he and Griezmann have gone down a storm with tennis ace Boris Becker.
The proud German served up some backhanded criticism for his own side's toothless attack - suggesting the absence of cult hero Mario Gomez might have been key in Marseille
On the other hand, at least Joachim Low had a semi-final to concentrate on this week. Novak Djokovic's early exit at Wimbledon meant coach Becker could focus all his attention on Die Mannschaft.
— Boris Becker (@TheBorisBecker) July 7, 2016