Euro 2004: Zidane crucial to France

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The European Football Championships kick off on June 12 in Portugal.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Zinedine Zidane, the three-time FIFA Player of the Year, is undoubtedly the most creative player in the world. And though he plays with Ronaldo for Real Madrid, both players had contrasting fortunes in the last World Cup. Zidane limped off with injury and France were out in the first round while Brazil of course went on to win the title. Zidane is fit and in full flow now and this is just what France need if they are to defend their European championship crown. Key players Arsenal's Thierry Henry is coming off probably his best season with the gunners. Thirty league goals helped his team finish the seasons as unbeaten champions. Another player who could hold the key to France's success will be Henry's Arsenal teammate Robert Pires. He missed the 2002 World Cup with an injury but he is back at his best. The French are in Group B with England, Croatia and Switzerland. Weak link The one weak link for France is their goalkeeper. Fabien Barthez was considered the best in the world till his silly mistakes with Manchester United dented his reputation. And Barthez didn't do anything to stem the rot with a blunder for Marseille in this seasons' UEFA Cup final. Barthez's bloopers though seem like the only thing that could kiss away France's hopes who otherwise look like favourites.

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