When Does Costa Rica Play In The World Cup World Cup 2006 Preview – France

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World Cup 2006 Preview – France

Absolute odds: 12/1

Group G winners: 1/2

France were required to call on the cavalry to secure qualification for the finals. Stuck in fourth place in their group, retired veterans Zinedine Zidane, Claude Makelele and Lilian Thuram returned to the team in a bid to turn around the team’s failing fortunes.

A valuable 1-0 win in the Republic of Ireland, a 1-1 draw in Switzerland and a 4-0 hammering of Cyprus ensured France topped an unbeaten group. Two draws against Israel and Switzerland and one against Ireland added to their five wins and saw them avoid a potential banana peel in the play-offs.

This is the first time France have qualified for the World Cup in 20 years, as they competed in the 1998 tournament as hosts and 2002 as Champions. They failed to reach the finals in 1990 and 1994 and will be desperate to avoid the shame they suffered four years ago when they finished bottom of their group without a goal to their name.

France are an aging side with Thuram and Zidane both 34 at the finals while Makelele, goalkeeper Gregory Coupet will be 33 and midfielder Sylvain Wiltord 32. The main problem manager Raymond Domenech suffered is the younger generation of players who do not look up to the task that has been forced to bring back the proven stars of the past.

Domenech has also ruled out creative characters such as Robert Pires and Johann Micoud with the potential midfield, bar Zidane, of Makelele, Wiltord and Patrick Vieria looking very static. Surely Zidane can’t be expected to do it all by himself at this late stage in his career?

Despite the chronic lack of creativity in midfield, this year’s finals must see the best of shots pairing Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet who have failed to shine in previous tournaments. In 17 World Cup appearances between them, they have scored only four goals together while Djibril Cisse has failed to score in three.

While on paper France still have world class qualifications they cannot be confidently backed to succeed in this tournament. On the contrary, they place almost no value on winning or even qualifying from Group G.

They play perhaps their toughest opponents Switzerland in the opening game and provided they come out of it unscathed they could use it as a springboard to qualify for the last 16.

Bet is recommended

There is no value in backing France to win the group or even qualify from it which is highly unlikely considering their struggle for qualification and inept performance four years ago. They face Switzerland in their opening game, a team they drew twice with during the qualifying process and another stalemate is the recommended bet here.

France vs Switzerland draw @ 9/4

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