First, they first picked clay for the contest in the northern French city of Lille and decided to host the tie in a football stadium to get maximum support from the home fans. Then they gathered for a one-week training camp to strengthen the team’s cohesion ahead of the final.
It didn’t work.
“We saw how quickly things changed. At the start of the week, the papers were full of stories about Roger’s back and the French team being ready to go to war,” said Switzerland’s No 2 Stan Wawrinka.
“At the end of the day, we saw the opposite. We handled the tie as usual, with a lot of discussions between us.”
After France failed in its bid to win the competition for the 10th time, following losses in the finals against Russia in 2002 and Serbia four years ago, questions are already surfacing over captain Arnaud Clement’s management.
Clement faced criticism from the local media on Sunday for failing to reveal a forearm injury sustained by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before the competition, and then deciding to send him out for the opening singles match on Friday.