Sunday, February 16, 2014

16 February 1994 - Every Record Journey Starts With A Single Match

On 16 February 1994, France kicked off a record 30-game unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win over Italy.

After finishing third at the 1986 World Cup, Les Bleus had struggled, failing to qualify for either the 1990 or 1994 tournaments. Their campaign for the latter ended in November 1993 with a loss to Bulgaria, who finished one point ahead of France to claim the group's final qualification spot. After that game, the French Football Federation sacked manager Gérard Houllier and gave the job to his assistant, Aimé Jacquet, on a temporary basis.

Jacquet's first match in charge was the February 1994 friendly against Italy, played in Napoli. France had not beaten the Italians on their home soil since 1912, losing nine of their ten matches there after that. But that poor run ended when Monaco midfielder Youri Djorkaeff scored the day's only goal to give his team the 1-0 victory.

France followed that win with a string of 29 unbeaten matches to set a team record. Although that run included Euro 1996, they did not lift the trophy, drawing with the Czech Republic in the final, then falling on penalties. They remained officially unbeaten until a 1-0 away loss to Denmark in November 1996.

Jacquet eventually became the manager on a permanent basis and went on to guide the team to victory in the 1998 World Cup.

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