France under pressure to get their World Cup game on

16th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

LEIPZIG, June 16, 2006 (AFP) - Anything less than victory against table toppers South Korea on Sunday will leave France perilously close to crashing out of the first round for the second successive World Cup.

LEIPZIG, June 16, 2006 (AFP) - Anything less than victory against table toppers South Korea on Sunday will leave France perilously close to crashing out of the first round for the second successive World Cup.

A drab goalless draw in their opener against Switzerland has left Raymond Domenech's 1998 champions tied for second in Group G, two points behind the 2002 semi-finalists.

Central to France's plight is her impotent attack which has not hit the mark at the World Cup now since the 3-0 triumph over Brazil in the final in Paris eight years ago.

Thierry Henry was deployed as a lone striker against the Swiss on Tuesday and Domenech must decide whether to stick with that or team up Arsenal's record goal scorer with either David Trezeguet or Louis Saha.

Another conundrum facing him is whether to persist with Frank Ribéry, the young midfielder from Marseille who failed to replicate his dazzling performances in France's three warm-up wins.

Trezeguet broke ranks last week and called for Domenech, who has Lyon's fit again midfielder Florent Malouda back at his disposal, to adopt a more aggressive style.

"It's my opinion that we have to push forward, we've got all the attributes to do that.

"Brazil don't ask themselves any questions, they just do it," the Juventus star said.

Domenech himself wants to see his predominantly thirty-something side, the only one of the eight seeds not to kick off with a win, raise their game from the solid yet unspectacular offering served up in Stuttgart.

"I want us to be more adventurous - I want to set the dogs free against Korea," he said.

"The Swiss match confirmed the solidity of our basic play, but the team were holding themselves back, a little hesitant.

"I want them to build on this sound foundation and show a more imaginative face on Sunday, to be more audacious. It's more a mental thing."

He added: "The Korean match has now turned into a very important one where we have to score."

"We know they have the possibility to look for a draw and go for it in their last game. It's obvious we have to win it to be comfortable but even if we draw again it doesn't rule everything out."

One positive from the Swiss draw was the showing of Zinedine Zidane who looked a lot sharper than in the run up to Germany.

But a bizarre booking for taking a free-kick too hastily means the midfield maestro who is making his final curtain call before retirement here will have to watch out if he is not to miss what could be his last appearance for his country against Togo next week.

Domenech rejected a suggestion that the Koreans, who have come off second best on their last two meetings, represented a less taxing task than Switzerland.

"Not at all. It won't be easier. On the contrary it will perhaps be more difficult.

"They go fast, from defence to attack. It's another style, another danger."

Henry agreed.

"Korea are talented, they have a lot of technique, they run a lot, they're a team that play without asking themselves questions.

"They attack altogether, and defend altogether."

Despite France's predicament South Korea coach Dick Advocaat is not blind to the potential havoc Zidane, Henry and company could wreak.

"We have heard a lot of stories about France but that team has so much quality," he commented.

"In principle, if they play the way they can play, it will be very difficult for us."

Advocaat is expected to play a defensive 4-3-3 formation designed to hit France on the break through talismanic striker Ahn Jung-Hwan, who came off the bench to grab the winner against Togo, or Manchester United attacking midfielder Park Ji-Sung.

"Hopefully France has not a good day and we have a very good day. That is what I hope," said the former Dutch coach.

"It is quite simple - everybody expects that France will win, so there is no reason for our team to be nervous. They just have to go out and play their game."

His only injury concern involves veteran defender Choi Jin-Cheul, who is struggling to be fit after a left knee injury suffered in the win over Togo.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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