> Sports > 2002 FIFA WORLD CUP 

   June 10, 2002 | 1030 IST


Battle of Wits

  Best of the Web

A compilation of the best links on the World Cup.

  Soccer Store

Snap up Books, CD ROMs, Arsenal soccer balls... Click here

France chase luck and inspiration

E-Mail this report to a friend
Print this page Best Printed on  HP Laserjets

Struggling champions France will chase for inspiration and hope their luck changes on Tuesday when they take on Denmark needing a two-goal victory to qualify for the World Cup's last 16.

A 1-0 defeat to Senegal in the opening match and a goalless draw against Uruguay have left the title holders bottom of the group A with one point.

If they stumble again, France will become the first reigning champions since Brazil in 1966 to fail to reach the second round.

The likely return of playmaker Zinedine Zidane has raised French spirits but even with their talisman midfielder they will have their work cut out in Inchon.

"We are in a very simple situation. We must beat the Danes by two goals," said midfielder Emmanuel Petit, who will miss the game through suspension.

"We won't have any pressure. We are going to play just like we always do. It's not because we have failed to win a match so far that we are going to change our whole strategy."

Coach Roger Lemerre appears keen to stick to his highly sophisticated 4-2-3-1 line-up which has been made to measure for Zidane, the world's most expensive player.

"I could have done many things after the opening match. But the right option was to keep faith with the way we play," Lemerre said. "We'll see if I'm wrong."


Zidane, who tore a left thigh muscle during a warm-up friendly against co-hosts South Korea on May 26, resumed training with his team mates on Saturday.

The team doctor said Zidane could be fit for Tuesday's match, conceding that he would not be at his best.

"He will not be 100 per cent fit," said defender Bixente Lizarazu, adding: "If he can't run, we will run for him."

France still have to win a match without Zidane this year and hope his presence will be enough to change their luck.

"We have created dozens of opportunities to score in these two games," skipper Marcel Desailly said. "And on the scoreboard we have nothing."

Petit and striker Thierry Henry are both suspended for this match. Sweeper Frank Leboeuf is doubtful with a groin injury.


Denmark only need a draw to qualify, but coach Morten Olsen says they will not play for a draw.

"We must enter this game with the will to win," he told a news conference at Denmark's base camp on the island of Nahmae.

"The situation in the group is particularly tricky and anything can happen. The most important thing is to score the first goal like the match between Argentina and England has proved," he said.

Olsen said the return of Zidane would be a boost for France. "Of course, Zidane is an ace up France's sleeve, but will he be himself and what about his shape?" he asked.

Since 1984, France and Denmark have met four times in an international tournament and each time the winner of the match has gone the all way through to the title.

"This match is going to be like a final for us," said Lizarazu. "We are in a desperate situation but if we qualify we will be very hard to stop."

Probable teams:

France (4-2-3-1): 16-Fabien Barthez; 15-Lilian Thuram, 5-Philippe Christanval, 8-Marcel Desailly, 3-Bixente Lizarazu; 4-Patrick Vieira, 7-Claude Makelele; 11-Sylvain Wiltord, 10-Zinedine Zidane, 21-Christophe Dugarry; 20-David Trezeguet.

Denmark (4-4-2): 1-Thomas Sorensen; 6-Thomas Helveg, 3-Rene Henriksen, 4-Martin Laursen, 5-Jan Heintze; 19-Dennis Rommedahl, 7-Thomas Gravesen, 2-Stig Tofting, 8-Jesper Gronkjaer; 11-Ebbe Sand, 9-Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Referee: Vitor Melo Pereira (Portugal)

Carlos Matos (Portugal)
Elise Doriri (Vanuatu)

Back to top
(c) Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.


(c) 2002 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.