Has there ever been a more… befuddling team? France in the late 1990s and into the aughts had more than a few of the world’s most beguiling players, and they actually knew how to win. And yet Les Bleus also scored high marks in self-sabotage: Zidane’s red card in ’98, again in oh-six. Nevermind the 2002 World Cup—the holders didn’t score a single goal—or whatever that was in 2010.
The World Cup holders barely qualified for Euro 2000, and their top scorer at the 1998 tournament—Thierry Henry—had been demoted to the U-21 national team during qualifying. And yet at the tournament itself, Zidane, Henry, Barthez, Petit, Deschamps, Blanc, Anelka, Trezeguet, Pires, Vieira, and the rest cemented their legacy as of the greatest teams ever to wear the country’s royal blue.