France have final friendly before Germany

6th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

SAINT ETIENNE, France, June 6, 2006 (AFP) - France put the finishing touches to their World Cup preparations with a final warm-up game against China here on Wednesday.

SAINT ETIENNE, France, June 6, 2006 (AFP) -  France put the finishing touches to their World Cup preparations with a final warm-up game against China here on Wednesday.

The encounter should give a clearer indication of the attack line-up favoured by coach Raymond Domenech.

Thierry Henry teamed up well with Manchester United's Louis Saha in Les Bleus' confidence boosting 2-0 win over Denmark in Lens last week - that performance a step up on the more workmanlike display the 1998 world champions had put in against Mexico at an ill-tempered Stade de France.

This match will also be studied keenly to gauge the state of preparedness of the talismanic Zinedine Zidane, the Real Madrid galactico for whom this represents a final chapter in his stand out career before retirement.

"Zizou's progress mirrors that of the team, it's becoming stronger. In training he works hard and I can assure you he'll be ready for June 13 (for France's World Cup opener against Switzerland)," said Bayern Munich full-back Willy Sagnol.

Zidane and the rest of Domenech's 23-man squad were given a 48-hour break with their families before resuming training at their French headquarters at Clairefontaine, south of Paris on Sunday.

"I think we'll be ready for Germany," said Newcastle defender Jean-Alain Boumsong, mindful perhaps of France's nightmare in Asia in 2002 when, as defending champions, they were knocked out of the first round without even scoring a goal.

"To beat Denmark 2-0 before the World Cup, that's a good result," he added.

After the friendly against China, who have just been soundly beaten 4-1 by Switzerland, France fly out Thursday for their World Cup base camp near Hannover.

France's preparations have seemingly gone smoothly with one exception – second-choice keeper Gregory Coupet's temporary walk-out from a training camp in the Alps last month.

According to Mickael Landrau that affair has left no ill feeling in the squad.

"We don't feel anything harmful from that," said the Paris Saint Germain stopper who is third in line to serve in goal after Fabien Barthez and Coupet.

"The group has continued to live well. Everyone's spoken to us about it, our families especially, but for us it wasn't an issue which has had any detrimental effect on our group."

Coupet was upset at being overlooked as first choice keeper, and Landrau said he could perfectly understand his reaction.

"As Lilian (Thuram) said, it was something that was almost bound to happen given Gregory's aim to be the first choice. He was upset, it's perfectly logical."

The French go into Wednesday's game with a brand new World Cup mascot who goes by the name of 'Petit Claude' - a rare multi-coloured, four-year-old cock considered the best of the breed in the whole of France.

"The competition was hot, the jury found it hard to make a choice," said Philippe Ligneul, the organiser of the competition to select the team's mascot.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article