Preview: France v Switzerland

Former World Cup Champions take on European up and comers as France meet Switzerland at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium in Stuttgart on Tuesday.

    Zinedine Zidane (front) and Thierry Henry training for France

    The teams will be quite familiar with one another as they were in the same European qualifying group, fighting out 0-0 and 1-1 draws last year in Paris and Bern respectively.

    Returning to the world stage, France are still haunted by the woeful defence of their 1998 title in Japan/Korea four years ago, a campaign that lasted just the mandatory three group matches and did not yield a single goal over the 270 minutes.

    Raymond Domenech, French coach, spent 11 successful years as the French Under 21s coach and will have previously worked with many of the players now in his current squad.

    French break

    France have only had one setback in their lead-up, but it was a significant one with Djibril Cisse breaking his leg in their final match before the finals.  Cisse has been replaced in the squad by Lyon forward Sidney Govou who can be used by Domenech in similar roles as Cisse.

    For Les Bleus, the ageing but ever-present midfielder Zinedine Zidane will again provide the creativity from midfield, with the dangerous Thierry Henry spearheading the attack up front.

    Both teams ended their World Cup preparations with friendly matches against the Chinese, with France winning their match 3-1 and the Swiss also victorious with a 4-1 scoreline against the Asian nation.

    Marco Streller and Kobi Kuhn of
    Switzerland

    For Switzerland, strikers Alexander Frei and Marco Streller both scored doubles against China and will be looking to take that form into the match against France, although Cologne player Streller did have an injury scare earlier in the week.

    Colliding with team mate during training, Streller twisted his knee but scans taken on Saturday showed no sign of serious injury and team doctor Cuno Wetzel has cleared him to play.

    "There is some bruising and a slight ligament strain but no structural damage," Wetzel said.

    Key Swiss defender Philippe Senderos will have his hands full marking Arsenal team mate Thierry Henry, the two combining at domestic level to take their side to the UEFA Champions League Final. 

    Inexperience

    A youthful team, the Swiss are the second youngest squad at the 2006 tournament and coach Kobi Kuhn was reluctant to talk up his team’s chances, even though they are in one of the more open groups in the competition.

    "This tournament may come a bit too early for us," Kuhn said in reference to his relatively inexperienced team.

    The match in southern Germany should be a great spectacle and may well decide which team secures the crucial top spot in Group G.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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