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Thursday, 22 June, 2000, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
France confident despite Dutch defeat
Emmanuel Petit
Petit (right) is a slight injury doubt for the Spain game
France may have lost their final group match but the world champions believe their performance in losing to Holland augurs well for the rest of the tournament.

Already assured of a quarter-final place, France fielded only one first-team regular, Marcel Desailly, in Wednesday's match in Amsterdam.

Goals from Christophe Dugarry and David Trezeguet, both among the eight French players starting their first Euro 2000 match, gave the visitors a deserved 2-1 lead at half-time.

And although Ronald de Boer and Boudewijn Zenden struck for Holland after the break, coach Roger Lemerre said his team's display showed the strength in depth that runs through the French squad.

Stand-in players

"The Dutch were desperate to win so that they could stay at home for the rest of the tournament, but we coped very well," he explained.

"Our first half really impressed me and even when the Netherlands came back, they often had more doubts in their play than we did.

Lemerre defended his decision to field a reserve team, saying it gave him a chance to protect his top players before Sunday's clash with Spain in Bruges.


Roger Lemerre
Lemerre praised his reserve players
"The first objective here was to qualify for the quarter-finals. It was the Group of Death with former European champions, but we got through.

Lemerre also praised several of his stand-in players, including midfielder Robert Pires.

"Pires is really important to this team. If Real Madrid and England have Steve McManaman, then we have Pires, who is a player of that high quality," he said.

"Patrick Vieira was working 360 degrees in front our defence and his performance was very satisfying. Christophe Dugarry showed he has incredible intelligence tactically and the ability to adapt."



We are disappointed at the result but it hasn't affected our morale

Patrick Vieira

The players too insisted confidence in the camp was still high despite the defeat.

"We are disappointed at the result but it hasn't affected our morale," Arsenal star Vieira said.

"I don't think they were any better than us. We just lost concentration and that cost us dearly.

"There is a lot of communication between the experienced players and the younger ones and that is always good for a team.

Petit

David Trezeguet added: "We were dangerous in attack and even though we conceded three goals our defence was never really stretched," the 22-year-old striker said.

Emmanuel Petit meanwhile missed training on Thursday to have a treatment because of a painful knee which saw him substituted in the 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic last Friday.

But team doctor Jean-Marcel Ferret insisted: "There is a good chance that he will be fit in time for Sunday's match."

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See also:

22 Jun 00 | Holland
Final challenge for France
21 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Group D goes Dutch
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