France hoping to avenge 2002 rout
HindustanTimes.com acquaints you with Group G favourite for World Cup. FIFA Rewind : Sweden, 1958 World Cup | Picsindia Updated: Jun 07, 2006 19:16 IST
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FRANCE - Odds 12/1
Group G> Switzerland, Togo, Korea Republic
Qualification> Winners of Europe Group 4
World Cup wins> Champions in 1998
It seems that France has been gifted with the luck of devil for this World Cup. Or, how else would you explain it being clubbed in Group G, with the easiest opponents on the football planet.
Togo, at 61st place, is the lowest-ranked team to travel to Germany. The side works as a unit and has upset more fancied teams like Senegal and Cameroon to qualify for the Cup. But at this level, good is just not good enough. Odd makers are sceptic on the side even managing to score a goal!
|France - 8th|
|Switzlerland - 35th|
|Korea Republic -29th|
|Togo - 61st|
A slightly better contender to France is South Korea, making its second straight appearance in this World Cup. In 2002, it rode on the home advantage and surprised every one by making it to the semis.
But this time round, there are no freebies and they look a very ordinary team. A potential danger for France can come from Switzerland, who it faces in their all-important opening game on June 13 in Stuttgart.
Swiss do not seem to be too imposing and neither are they World Cup heavy weights by any measure. But, they have a knack of coming through when counted out by adopting a radical counter-attacking brand of football.
Ask 2002 semi-finalists Turkey that suffered at its hands in a 2-game playoff to qualify.
That leaves France - the only Big Fish in the Group - with thoughts of an easy passage, though not without pain.
Les Bleus would be looking to exorcise the demons of Korea/Japan Cup when it shockingly exited from the 1st round, without winning any game and without scoring a goal.
But this time they know exactly what they need to do and what they should not do. Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele have all come back from retirement and are determined to make Germany their golden swansong.
However, all eyes will be on the fast and highly skilled Thierry Henry. He is imperious in front of the net and could well be the answer to Brazil's Ronaldinho.
Who to watch:Thierry Henry. He is a player who never stops working to improve his game. But the Arsenal striker is yet to shine in a major tournament and Germany 2006 could be his stage.
Who's missing: No major surprises here.
How France fares in this match can decide how it performs in the rest of the tournament. Switzerland is no easy opponent. Don't miss this contest!
Mark your date: France v Switzerland, June 13, 2130 IST
South Korea has not performed that well outside its own home turf and odds are heavily stacked against it. Yet, France ought to go hard on them from the start.
Mark your date: France v South Korea, June 19, 0030 IST
Togo will look towards Senegal for inspiration who beat France during 2002 World. But the chances of that happening look remote.
Mark your date: France v Togo, June 24, 0030 IST
Group H would be reviewed tomorrow.