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Home > Sports > Euro 2008 > Report

France missing Zidane's magic

June 15, 2008 22:04 IST

France's [Images] Euro 2008 [Images] squad are missing Zinedine Zidane [Images], playmaker Franck Ribery [Images] and goalkeeper Gregory Coupet said on Sunday.

"He would take the ball and go and score three goals," Ribery told reporters as the team prepared for Tuesday's Group C decider against Italy [Images].

"His presence would do everybody a lot of good," added the midfielder, a Zidane fan long before replacing him as France's talismanic player.

Zidane retired after his infamous head-butt on Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup final defeat by Italy.

For the first time in more than a decade Les Bleus are playing at the finals of a major tournament without the inspiration behind their 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 triumphs.

Only after Zidane was persuaded to come out of retirement did France qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

  • The scarred French messiah

Coupet said Zidane's retirement was one of the reasons why France, thrashed 4-1 by Netherlands on Friday after drawing 0-0 with Romania on Monday, were toiling at these finals.


"We lost a great captain," said Coupet. "It's not easy to replace the best player in the world.

"We're trying to rebuild a group without him. That's part of our problem."

To scramble into the quarter-finals, France need to beat Italy and hope Romania do not overcome the Dutch in Berne on Tuesday.

"We all miss Zizou," Ribery said. "In difficult situations like the one we're in now you can't help thinking about what a player like him could bring."

France, nicknamed the 'Brazilians of Europe' in the 1980s, had to wait more than 10 years to establish themselves as a force after their other all-time great Michel Platini [Images] retired in 1987.

Zidane then came along and a golden decade started.

Ribery said France must show no fear against world champions Italy in Zurich.

"We must not be afraid," he said. "We're not dead yet."

Complete Coverage: Euro 2008