French and Swiss in neutral territory

Group G rivals France and Switzerland played out the second scoreless draw of the tournament at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium in Stuttgart on Tuesday.

    When captains clash: Zinedine Zidane (l) and Johann Vogel

    The two teams were in the same World Cup qualifying group in Europe, with both matches against one another also ending in draws of 0-0 and 1-1.

    France have now gone four World Cup Finals matches without scoring a goal which is a major worry for coach Raymond Domenech given the likes of Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Louis Saha and Sylvain Wiltord at his disposal.

    The absence of Djibril Cisse would also have had an effect on France’s forward line, the Liverpool striker a late withdrawal from the squad after breaking his leg in his team’s final warm up match against China.

    In contrast, it was the first time Switzerland had not conceded a goal in a World Cup Finals match.

    With no goals and not many highlights to speak of, Russian referee Valentin Ivanov may well take all the headlines, dishing out 8 yellow cards for the match.

    Fabien Barthez (r) saves from
    Daniel Gygax

    The Swiss had a great chance in the 65th minute as a close range header from substitute striker Daniel Gygax was saved by French keeper Fabien Barthez who was having trouble looking into the sun.

    Earlier, French coach Domenech handed 22 year old Marseilles player Frank Ribery his first starting cap for France with the pacy midfielder getting himself involved in play early on, popping up around the goal box on a number of occasions.

    France enjoyed the bulk of the early possession and field position, but the Swiss did get a shot off in the 12th minute through Cologne midfielder Ricardo Cabanas which went closer to the corner flag than the goal.

    Switzerland had their best opportunity of the half in the 25th minute when a free kick from the exotically named Tranquillo Barnetta evaded everyone and went through to hit the post before rebounding to striker Alexander Frei who sent an awkward shot over the bar from just metres out.

    In the 39th minute Ribery went through on goal to be one-on-one with Swiss keeper Pascal Zuberbuehler, and then rather unselfishly passed to Henry when perhaps he could have tried to score himself.

    Henry sent a shot goal bound, which hit the arm of Swiss defender Patrick Mueller inside the box, but calls for handball and a penalty were waved away by the Russian referee.

    France now play impressive first up winners South Korea in Leipzig on Sunday, while the Swiss face Togo in Dortmund on the same day.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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