MUNICH, July 4, 2006 (AFP) – Factfile on France who play Portugal in the World Cup semi-finals here on Wednesday:-
– Previous World Cup appearances: 11 (1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1998, 2002)
– World Cup best: Winners (1998)
– European champions: 2 (1984, 2000)
FIFA world ranking: 8
Coach: Raymond Domenech
A complex personality who has struggled to win over French fans since taking over from Jacques Santini after Euro 2004, Domenech was subjected to a barrage of criticism as his team made hard work of their qualifying campaign.
He was widely blamed for the early retirements of Zinedine Zidane, Claude Makelele and Lilian Thuram, all of whom subsequently reversed their decisions.
Survived a torrid early World Cup campaign accusing the media of sabotage and attracting a storm of criticism over his tactics and decision to substitute Zidane in the draw with South Korea.
The 2-0 win over Togo was crucial in improving the atmosphere and with Zidane back after suspension, Les Bleus suddenly rediscovered all their old inspiration to trounce Spain 3-1 and then shock the world by dethroning Brazil.
Key player: Thierry Henry
Playing in his third World Cup, Henry more than any other player in the French squad is out to make his mark on the tournament after a poor showing in 2002 where he failed to score a goal.
Though Henry appears to have lost a yard of the electrifying pace this year that once made him almost unplayable, he enjoyed a prolific season with Arsenal in England and Europe.
On target against the Koreans and Togo, he was alone up front again in the last 16 game against Spain. He failed to score but was instrumental in setting up the first two goals and then hit a sensational winner against Brazil finally connecting on a pass from Zidane.
Goalkeepers: Fabien Barthez (Marseille), GrÃ©gory Coupet (Lyon), MickaÃ«l Landreau (Nantes)
Defenders: Eric Abidal (Lyon), Jean-Alain Boumsong (Newcastle/ENG), Pascal Chimbonda (Wigan/ENG), William Gallas (Chelsea/ENG), GaÃ«l Givet (Monaco), Willy Sagnol (Bayern Munich/GER), MikaÃ«l Silvestre (Manchester United/ENG), Lilian Thuram (Juventus/ITA)
Midfielders: Vikash Dhorasoo (Paris SG), Alou Diarra (Lens), Claude Makelele (Chelsea/ENG), Florent Malouda (Lyon), Patrick Vieira (Juventus/ITA), ZinÃ©dine Zidane (Real Madrid/ESP)
Forwards: Sidney Govou (Lyon), Thierry Henry (Arsenal/ENG), Franck RibÃ©ry (Marseille), Louis Saha (Manchester United/ENG), David Trezeguet (Juventus/ITA), Sylvain Wiltord (Lyon)
World Cup 2006 record
France 0 Switzerland 0
France 1 (Henry 9) South Korea 1 (Park Ji-Sung 81)
France 2 Togo (Vieira 55, Henry 61)
Last 16 at Hanover
France 3 (Ribery 41, Vieira 83, Zidane 90+2) Spain 1 (Villa 28-pen)
Quarter-finals at Frankfurt
Brazil 0 France 1 (Henry 57)
France v Portugal head-to heads
Played 21 times
France leads 15 wins to 5 with 1 draw: Goals for -40, goals against -24