European Championship Finals in Holland and Belgium -- First round fixtures.

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European Leagues: European Cups: Euro 2000 -- Match 03


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First Round

  • Sun. 11th June: (Group D)
    Game 03 France - Denmark
    Jan Breydel stadium, Bruges (18:00)

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France

Game 03

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Denmark

The battle of the keepers, as some would like to make out. Between the posts at either end stand Peter Schmeichel (formerly of Manchester United) and Fabien Barthez (soon to pull on a Manchester United goalkeeper's jersey himself). Peter Schmeichel may be past his best, although he's proved he can convert penalties.

The injury-hit Danes are in what has become known as the Group of Death (also includes Holland and the Czech Republic -- playing later today) and may find progress beyond the group stage a goal to far. It's hard to see them overcome the current World Champions, France; who have only been beaten once, by Russia, since their 3-0 triumph over Brazil.

For France, Zinedine Zidane will be the playmaker to watch in midfield, although Bo Johansson doesn't intend to have anyone man-mark him, in the hope that Denmark can create a surprise themselves. One man doesn't a team make, but it sure does help when someone like Zidane can pick up the ball from Desailly or Blanc, play it to Djorkaeff or release Thierry Henry or Nicolas Anelka up front.

Football is full of surprises; and Denmark would certainly be one of them if they can contain France enough to get a result here. When the individual talent that the French team have doesn't gel as a team, they can be unpredictable and make hard work of what should be an easy win. Denmark will be looking to frustrate the French individuals and disrupt the balance of the team.

Recent form:
France:
Iceland 3-2
(Qual)
Croatia 3-0
Poland 1-0
Scotland 2-0
Slovenia 3-2
Croatia 2-0
Japan 2-2
(in Morocco)
Morocco 5-1
Denmark:
Israel 5-0
(Play-off)
Israel 3-0
(Play-off)
Sweden 0-1
(Nordic Cup -- in Spain)
Norway 2-4
(Nordic Cup -- in Spain)
Finland 1-2
(Nordic Cup -- in Spain)
Portugal 1-2
Sweden 0-1
Belgium 2-2

France Team:
16-Fabien Barthez
15-Lilian Thuram, 8-Marcel Desailly, 5-Laurent Blanc, 3-Bixente Lizarazu
17-Emmanuel Petit, 7-Didier Deschamps, 10-Zinedine Zidane, 6-Youri Djorkaeff
12-Thierry Henry, 9-Nicolas Anelka

Denmark Team:
1-Peter Schmeichel
2-Michael Schjonberg, 3-Rene Henriksen, 5-Jan Heintze, 12-Soren Colding
7-Allan Nielsen, 15-Stig Tofting, 19-Morten Bisgaard, 8-Jesper Gronkjaer
9-Jon Dahl Tomasson, 11-Ebbe Sand

Referee: Guenter Benko (Austria)

First Half:
The first half of this duel was intense, electrifying, fast-paced and lacking nothing; except a goal for Denmark. Denmark got the game under way and soon won the first corner. Barthez made a few early saves with his feet, then France stepped up a gear.

Djorkaeff dribbles at the Danes. Zidane tries to take on three. Allez Les Bleus rings out around the Bruges stadium. But it's Denmark on the attack again. Tomasson testing Barthez once more; the French keeper needing two attempts to hold the low shot.

Anelka breaks past Schmeichel at the other end, only to fire into the side-netting. Then the goal. Anelka passes Schmeichel again in the 16th minute, although the big Dane pushes the ball from his feet. Lauren Blanc gets on to the loose ball and fires into an open goal.

This French side are looking stronger and faster than they did in France98. The Danish coach studies closely.

Deschamps and Desailly, forward to Henry. Again Henry, solo on the left, gets the ball past Schmeichel.... into the side-netting. Scmeichel is pouring sweat and gets a little treatment.

The first-half just flew by. The best 45 minutes of the tournament so far, with the Danes always on the counter. 1-0 to France at Half-time.

Second Half:
While the tempo of the first half would have been hard to match, excitement was never far away. Sadly for the Danes, it was the French who were doing the exciting.

Although Denmark tried to take the initiative when France slowed things down, the pace of the French front-runners was too much; two more goals too much.

Denmark played a few short balls on the edge of the French area, but found no way through, as the French took less risks leaving Denmark with everything to do.

Thierry Henry breaks down the left from the halfway line, on the 64th minute, and curls the ball around Peter Schmeichel; as Schjonberg tries to slide in to the ball in desperation.

Denmark make a double substitution as they look for new ideas and then bring on Mikkel Beck as well. France replace Anelka with Wiltord, who fits into the game immediately; sprinting onto a ball from Zidane and into the Danish area. Schmeichel gets a hand down to it.

Petit, Zidane, Desailly, Deschamps. The French are having fun as Zidane piroettes with the ball. Schmeichel double fists a Zidane drive. No worry to the World Champions, they feel as though they're on the way to the European Championships' crown as well.

Into time added on. Vieira breaks on the right with Wiltord in the middle. Peter Schmeichel is stranded as Wiltord seals a terrific game with France's third goal -- offside?

Result: France 3 -- Denmark 0 and not a yellow card in sight.

Man of the Match: Zinedine Zidane.

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Sun. 11th June: (Group D)
Game 04 Holland - Czech Rep. (1-0)

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