home      service centre   |   publications   |   football family   |   competitions   

France set to continue renaissance but Italy look shaky

© Reuters 2002

LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Defending European champions France should continue their renaissance under new coach Jacques Santini with another victory on Wednesday when they face Malta in their third qualifier for the 2004 European Championship.

France, who lost their world crowd in such embarrassing fashion without scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup", have now won twice and drawn once in their three matches since Santini replaced Roger Lemerre after the debacle in the Far East.

It is almost impossible to see any outcome other than a convincing French victory especially as they have scored seven goals and conceded just one in their opening two qualifiers and Malta's goal tally is 0-5 after two defeats in a row.

With the other Group One match between Israel and Cyprus being postponed until April because of tension in the Middle East, France should be six points clear of the field by the time Wednesday's match in Valletta is over.

ITALIAN DOLDRUMS While France appear to be emerging from a difficult period, Italy, runners-up to the French in the 2000 final and contorversially eliminated by South Korea in the second round of the FIFA World Cup", are still in the doldrums.

Despite winning their opening Group Nine match against Azerbaijan last month, Italy played poorly in a 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia in Naples on Saturday with many critics calling for coach Giovanni Trapattoni to resign.

He declined their invitation on Monday and instead was preparing his team for what could prove to be a very tough match against resurgent Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Wales are playing their best football for 20 years, are unbeaten in six matches and in Ryan Giggs, Simon Davies and Robbie Savage have three players at the top of their game for their English premier league clubs Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Birmingham City respectively.

Italy have also lost in-form striker Filippo Inzaghi with an injury and will be aware that Wales have beaten both Argentina and Germany in Cardiff this year.

RACICSM RETURNS Wednesday's matches, while firstly about points and qualifying for the finals in Portugal in 2004, will be played against an increasingly worrying backdrop of racist abuse towards players, especially in the eastern half of the continent.

UEFA have started an investigation into the crowd trouble at the Slovakia v England match in Bratislava on Saturday, during which Slovakian fans taunted England's black players and Slovakian riot police bludgeoned English fans inside the stadium.

England won the match, the first of their campaign, 2-1, and look set for another three points against Macedonia when they meet them at Southampton. Group leaders Turkey also look set to maintain their 100 per cent start with a third successive win against Liechtenstein in Istanbul.

Reports provided by

Tuesday, 22 October
Arsenal can fire me into France team - Cygan
Bobic on his way back to Germany team - Voeller
Veteran striker Selimani dropped from Tanzania squad
Monday, 21 October
Unsung Venezuela overcome Ecuador in friendly
S.Korea searching for new coach after sacking of Park
Sunday, 20 October
Seaman says he will not retire from international stage
Saturday, 19 October
South Korea coach sacked
Friday, 18 October
Boniek says he will quit if Poland miss Euro 2004
Israeli teams face heavy Cyprus security bills
Uruguayan footballers threaten to strike
Japan hopeful of Brazil friendly in March
Thursday, 17 October
England held to shock draw by Macedonia
Henry inspires France to 4-0 win over Malta
Superior Dutch sweep Austria aside
Faroese jubilant despite defeat by Germany
Pressure mounts on beleaguered Trapattoni
Mozambican coach resigns after 3-0 defeat
Ballack shines through in dull German display
Gunes unconcerned by Tugay retirement speculation
Japan coach Zico set to stand by Nakamura
Czech Republic 3 Belarus 0 - Euro under-21 result
Greece back in the hunt, says Rehhagel
Wednesday, 16 October
Eriksson wary of Macedonia threat

  Copyright © 1994-2002 FIFA. All rights reserved.
  Copyright © 1994-2002 En-Linea, Inc. All rights reserved.