France look ahead to quarter-finals

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The French Euro 2004 squad were back on the training pitch on Tuesday, the day after they secured passage through to the last eight.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Santo Tierso:

The French Euro 2004 squad were back on the training pitch on Tuesday, the day after they secured passage through to the last eight. France reached the quarter-finals on Monday after topping Group B with a 3-1 win over Switzerland. They next face outsiders Greece on Friday, June, 25. The French team held a low-key training session at their Santo Tierso training camp on Tuesday ahead of their Euro 2004 quarter-final against Greece. Despite failing to really impress in any of their group games, Les Blues have nevertheless progressed through as winners of Group B, and now have what many see as a plum tie against the tournament's surprise package. Against the Swiss, Zinedine Zidane put France ahead with his third goal of the tournament, only for teenager Johann Vonlanthen to equalise six minutes later. But then Arsenal's Thierry Henry came to the rescue with two well-taken goals for the defending champions. Henry had been relatively anonymous in France's previous games, but - ominously for the other teams in the tournament - may now be approaching something like his best form. Coach Jacques Santini - who has endured a troubled relationship with his country's press in recent weeks - was asked whether he was happy with the way his team had played so far. "It's a world apart. You, yourselves (the press), may have preferred to have seen the beautiful France team of the first 20 minutes. But I appreciated very much the second half, in particular the collective effort to overcome the situation, and above all to seek a victory which not only allowed us to qualify, but also - I would say - to prepare my best idea for the quarter-final line-up," he said. Striker Louis Saha came on in the second half against Switzerland, and helped set up Henry's first goal. Saha said that the team hope to find their true form now that they have made it through from the group stage. "I think we know we can do better, for sure. But at the same time we are very happy to be here, and we know we can go up a gear now and find a little more fluidity in our game," said Saha. And the Manchester United striker said that he, for one, will not be underestimating the strength of the Greeks. Saha's teammate Robert Pires agreed that he expects Greece to provide a stern test - but was also happy to have avoided facing hosts Portugal. That honour belongs to Group B runners-up England. France have several injury issues heading into the game. Defender Willy Sagnol will definitely be out for the rest of the tournament with a broken arm. Midfielder Patrick Vieira and defender William Gallas, meanwhile, are uncertain for Friday's match in Lisbon. Vieira has a left thigh strain, Gallas a twisted left ankle. (AP)

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