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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
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.
Iceland 3-2 (Qual)
Japan 2-2 (in Morocco)
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)
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
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
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
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?
France 3 -- Denmark 0 and not a yellow card in sight.
Man of the Match:
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Sun. 11th June:
Game 04 Holland - Czech Rep. (1-0)