|feedback | low graphics version|
|You are in: Euro2000: Teams: France|
Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Houllier expects final dress rehearsal
Gerard Houllier has told BBC Sport Online he believes Holland and France could be previewing the Euro 2000 final in Amsterdam tonight.
Houllier - France's technical director when they won the World Cup two year ago - is still convinced the hosts remain favourites for the tournament.
But he is not surprised his fellow countrymen have shaken off the indifferent form of the last two years to emerge as arguably Euro 2000's most impressive team.
Liverpool manager Houllier expects the pressure to be firmly on the Dutch, because Frank Rijkaard's team must beat the French to ensure they play their remaining games in Holland.
Houllier said: "I think we could definitely be looking at a dress rehearsal of the Euro 2000 final tonight.
"The game itself is an interesting one to analyse because I can see France resting one or two key players for battles ahead.
"This change in selection policy will give motivation to players who have not yet played in Euro 2000. It will keep a freshness in fitness and mental attitude among the players.
"France adopted this strategy very successfully in France 98, and they could also use the game to rest players. It will avoid silly bookings that may rule players out of future, and of course more important, matches.
"Holland are the team playing for the higher stakes, because if they win they will continue to play in their home country, which will be vitally important.
"I suspect France would not be wildly unhappy to finish second in the group, because they will then play their quarter final in Bruges. It is a city they know well and is close at hand for their supporters.
"It would not, of course, be a home game for France, but you could certainly call it the next best thing.
"I have not been surprised by the way France have performed in this tournament because I know these players well.
"They have retained the strong spine of the World Cup winning team in the goalkeeper, defence, and midfield, and of course they now have Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and David Trezeguet in attack.
"They were with me as young players in France, and I have no doubts about their qualty.
"I would put France alongside Italy and Portugal as the best teams of Euro 2000 so far, but I feel there is even more to come from Holland. I still have a feeling they will be the eventual winners.
"Those involved in football who are out here at the tournament sense that Holland are now picking up. It is interesting that they are winning games without any one of their players making a major impact on affairs so far.
"They had a very shaky start against the Czech Republic, and had an uncertain first half against Denmark.
"The pressure is more on Holland to win in this particular game.They do, however, possess players of real quality in people like Dennis Bergkamp, Edgar Davids and Patrick Kluivert.
"The key to a successful campaign in a tournament like Euro 2000 is, to a large extent, timing. France have timed their fitness and sharpness, and Holland may well be in the process of doing the same.
"It also looks like our goalkeeper at Liverpool, Sander Westerveld, will get his chance.
"I have proved how highly I rate him by making him a major signing for Liverpool and I have no doubts about his ability to perform at the highest level, whether it is for his club and country," he added.
|^^ Back to top|
|Front Page | Results/Fixtures | Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Knockout | Teams | Sportstalk | Fans' Guide | AudioVideo | Photo Gallery