Sagnol looks ahead to final against Italy

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Willy Sagnol said that their team has been "liberated" ever since they beat Togo 2-0 to qualify for the second round of the World Cup finals in Germany.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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French defender Willy Sagnol said that their team has been "liberated" ever since they beat Togo 2-0 to qualify for the second round of the World Cup finals in Germany. France has hit top form in the latter stages of the tournament to earn a place in Sunday's final against Italy. Sagnol said Les Bleus' indifferent start to the World Cup can be attributed to a "mental problem" that no longer afflicts them. Few expected France to make it to the final of the World Cup after they opened the tournament with draws against Switzerland and South Korea. But 'Les Bleus' have completely transformed themselves in the knockout stages, producing some of the best football of the tournament in their victories over Spain, Brazil and Portugal. "Like Italy, we also started against Switzerland and Korea not in a good way. Of course, after two draws it is a bit hard to think about a final, but like I said, we always believed in our chances. It was just a mental problem," said Sagnol. "We thought too much about 2002 when we lost against Senegal and Denmark. But after the victory against Togo, everything became much more easy," he added. Zidane's contribution The turnaround in France's form has been inspired in large part by the improved performances of their captain Zinedine Zidane. It was Zidane who scored the decisive penalty against Portugal. Sagnol says he expects the veteran to shine against Italy, his final game before retirement. "It's his last game, but it is more than that. This is also the final for the squad of 23 and the staff, and this is also the World Cup final for all the people who have supported us since the beginning. Moreover, if it can be a nice goodbye (for Zidane) that would be even better," he said. Sagnol also praised the recent performances of striker Thierry Henry and said he will play a key role again against the Italians. "We never forget. Against Brazil, he scored. Against Portugal, the penalty is after a fault against him. And I think he will help us a lot," Sagnol added. Govou unsure French forward Sidney Govou has been regularly used as a substitute in Germany, but says that he still doesn't know whether he'll be used by coach Raymond Domenech in the final. The Lyon striker was called up as a late replacement in the French World Cup squad, after Djibril Cisse broke his leg in a warm-up friendly with China. France will be aiming for their second World Cup triumph in eight years, while Italy are looking to lift the trophy for the fourth time. (AP)

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