The World Cup is ominously close! So that you aren't caught offside (they have that in soccer, right?), we're previewing all the participants, bringing you Four Things You Don't Know About Them. If you have a tidbit, send it along to tips@Deadspin.com. Today: France! And for World Cup previews that are even better than ours, check out That's On Point, who helped us with these as well.
• 1. Thank Heaven, For Little Girls. Ah, France, home of Maurice Chevalier, baugettes and possibly the greatest animated film of the past 10 years. Our vow to you today — no surrender jokes. But we will open with a classic French lout, WC keeper Fabian Barthez. He played for the Marseille team that had to forfeit its 1992 Ligue 1 title for match fixing ... he's a heavy smoker ... he made the short-sleeved keeper shirt fashionable ... he recently earned a lenghty ban for spitting in a referee's face ... and the real reason we loathe him: acute envy. This is his girlfriend.
• 2. Let Them Eat Cake. France won the 1998 Cup which it hosted, but in 2002 Les Blues shocked the world by losing to Senegal, and only managing a scoreless draw with Uruguay. This time out, though, France received a very soft draw and could rule again. That has been its history though; it seems that the French are always either retreating from Moscow or storming the Bastille. There's no in-between. Of course, they do open against Togo, which has employed its own witch doctor.
• 3. Oooh, Ahhhh, Cantona. Born in Paris, Eric Cantona was one of France's greatest-ever players until a series of arguments and misdeeds had him wind up with Manchester United, where he became one of England's greatest soccer icons. He's also the current star of a Nike ad campaign.
• 4. What's That Smell? Victory, Or Bitter Failure? Is Djibril Cisse the Dennis Rodman of France? Well, we've never heard of him being ticketed for speeding his boat in a manatee zone, but he does have the hair issues. Then there is forward Thierry Henry (aka TH14), who is a spokesman for Estee Lauder.