Euro 2004: French emerge favourites

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> At Euro 2004, the match that everyone is looking out for is the clash between England and France on Sunday.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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At Euro 2004, the match that everyone is looking out for is the clash between England and France. Zinedine Zidane 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 was out in the first round while Brazil went on to win the title. Zidane fit and the strikers in full flow is just what France need if they are to defend their European championship crown. 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. Pires missed the 2002 World Cup with an injury but he's back at his best. The French are in Group B with England, Croatia and Switzerland. Portugal will their fifth appearance at the European Championship's having twice been winners in 1984 and 2000, but their biggest prize till date has no doubt been the 1998 World Cup. Currently the team is on a 17 match winning streak. 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 did not do anything to stem the rot with a blunder for Marseille in this season’s UEFA Cup final. Barthez's bloopers though seem like the only thing that could kiss away France's hopes, who otherwise look like favourites.