Group C: France          Castellano   Page 2

Argentina  2

Austria  2

Belgium  2

Brazil  2

Bulgaria  2

Cameroon  2

Chile  2

Colombia  2

Croatia  2

Denmark  2

England  2

France  2

Germany  2

Iran  2

Italy  2

Jamaica  2

Japan  2

México  2

Morocco  2

Netherlands  2

Nigeria  2

Norway  2

Paraguay  2

Romania  2

Saudi Arabia  2

Scotland  2

South Africa 2

South Korea

Spain  2

Tunisia  2

United States  2

Yugoslavia  2

 Fédération Française de Football  

Coach: Aimé JACQUET

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vs. SOUTH AFRICA

12.06.98 Marseille

vs. SAUDI ARABIA

18.06.98 Saint-Denis

vs. DENMARK

24.06.98 Lyon

Team Colors: Blue with White trims, White pants with Red socks.

Confederation: UEFA

10th appearance in the World Cup finals

Finished 3rd in 1958 in Sweden and in 1986 in Mexico

4th in 1982 in Spain

Winner of European Championships 1984 in France

Key players: D Marcel Desailly (AC Milan, Italy),

M Zinedine Zidane (Juventus, Italy),

D Laurent Blanc (Marseille),

M Youri Djorkaeff (Inter Milan, Italy).

Bernard Diomede: Late call up, did make the final team.

Keep an Eye on: Zinedine Zidane: A Rolls Royce among players, top class.

Youri Djorkaeff: Another outstanding talent, but is there room for him and Zidane? The issue is unresolved.

Analysis: Only Brazil can match the French for attacking depth. Defense is strong. France, though not a soccer-crazed nation, will have the home crowd strongly pulling for it. Semifinals are possible.

Don't blame the French for the ticket mix-up. It is all the fault of the FIFA. Enjoy the food, the wine and the hospitality.

History: France, the hosts of the last World Cup this century, have not competed in the finals since 1986. This will be their 10th appearance, though they have rarely shined in the event. Only in the 1958 finals in Sweden (3rd), in Spain in 1982 (4th) and in Mexico in 1986 (3rd) have they distinguished themselves. Under Michel Hidalgo, France also won the European Championship on home soil in 1984 with a team boasting the likes of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana. It is a Frenchman, Just Fontaine, who still holds the World Cup scoring record of 13 goals in a single tournament, set at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

At club level, France underachieved up to the 1990s, when Marseille at last succeeded in winning a European trophy by lifting the 1993 European Champions Cup after six French teams had reached finals and lost -- Reims (1956-1959), Saint-Etienne (1976), Bastia (1978), Marseille (1991) and Monaco (1992). In recent years, the fine performances of French clubs in Europe (notably Paris SG's 1996 European Cup Winners Cup victory) have led to an exodus of the best French players to richer clubs in Italy, Spain and England. Some 80 percent of current French coach Aimé Jacquet's squad for the 1998 finals will be players based abroad.

The French newspaper, L'Équipe, spread a giant headline across its pages recently that screamed: "In just a few months we host the World Cup - wake up!" Yet France sleeps on and soporific displays by the national team have done little to stir the country from its football slumbers.

That the French are capable of mounting Europe's strongest challenge is not in doubt. It is not just because they have the advantage as hosts that some experts rate them second favorites behind Brazil. In Marcel Desailly, Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps, they have a nucleus of outstanding performers, and winning a group containing South Africa, Denmark and Saudi Arabia should be well within their powers.

The big reservation is whether Aimé Jacquet, the coach, can coax the best from them, despite a remarkable record of only two defeats (one to England in Le Tournoi) in 36 games, in which his side have scored 70 goals and conceded only 19. They were jeered off after their last two matches - functional 2-1 victories over South Africa and Scotland - and the supporters yearn for entertainment.

Attack remains his biggest problem, a fact reflected by talk of a recall for Jean-Pierre Papin, the 33-year-old Bordeaux striker. This would be seen as a retrograde step at best, a sign of desperation at worst.

In 1984, Michel Platini led France to victory in the European championship. Now co-president of the 1998 World Cup organizing committee, it is Platini's job to convince his country that they can triumph again. So far, Jacquet is not making that task easy.

Links:

FIFA   Cnnsi   ESPN

Soccernet   WorldMedia

World Cup History

International Herald Tribune

Le Monde

Le Monde diplomatique - Le mensuel francais presente ses articles en integralite.

Libération

Lyon Capitale - Newspaper from Lyon, France. Politics, Society, Sports

Nice-Matin - Daily news of French Riviera, Cote d'Azur, Var and Corse.

France Home

France Visitor

POSITION NAME AGE CAPS

G Fabien Barthez 24 9

G Bernard Lama 34 35  

G Lionel Litizi 26 2

D Laurent Blanc 32 63

D Marcel Desailly 29 37

D Lilian Thuram 25 27

D Vincent Candela 24 7

D Bruno N'Gotty 26 6  

D Bixente Lizarazu 27 30

D Franck Leboeuf 29 11

M Pierre Laigle 27 8

M Didier Deschamps 29 63

M Zinidine Zidane 25 28

M Emmanuel Petit 27 17

M Christian Karembeu 27 29

M Alain Boghossian 27 2

M Franck Gava 27 3

M Patrick Vieira 24 5

F Youri Djorkaeff 29 31  

F Stephane Guivarc'h 27 2

F Christophe Dugarry 25 20

F Florian Maurice 24 4

F Robert Pires 24 7

F Patrice Loko 27 25  

F Bernard Diomede 24 2

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