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Frank Leboeuf
"Figo is for me simply the best player in the world at the moment."
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Monday, 26 June, 2000, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Leboeuf gets frank with Zizou
Frank Leboeuf
Frank Lebeouf takes on Holland's Patrick Kluivert
BBC Sport Online's Pete Lansley talks to Frank Leboeuf.

Frank Leboeuf has challenged Zinedine Zidane ahead of France's Euro 2000 semi-final against Portugal by telling him that Luis Figo is currently the best player in the world.

The Chelsea defender witnessed Figo's awesome prowess when he inspired Barcelona's dramatic five-goal comeback in the Nou Camp in the quarter-final of the Champions League in April.

And although he paid tribute to the "incredible skills" of Zidane, Leboeuf said: "Figo is for me simply the best player in the world at the moment.


Zinedine Zidane
Zidane needs to be even better says Leboeuf
"He's got more influence in his team, and I think he is more efficient in front of goal. But Zizou has got some incredible skills and he will soon be much better than him."

Left-back Bixente Lizarazu, who may nominally have to mark Figo, said: "Figo and Zizou are two of the best three players in the world.

"If I have to play up against Figo I will, but in Portugal's system he is playing one time on the left, one time on the right and then in the middle.

"But they have other players with such good technique that will come into my area, and I know we have a difficult game."


Luis Figo
Luis Figo: Portuguese superstar
Lebeouf, however, reckons that Portugal will have their work cut out against what he describes as "the best defence in the world".

Currently being kept out of the side by his Chelsea colleague Marcel Desailly and Laurent Blanc, he also thinks luck is on the side of France after Spain's late penalty miss.

"Fate is definitely with us, even if we have to pray a lot. I don't know if God is a Frenchman, but he is a good guy anyway."

Fantastic

But it is more likely to be Zidane who masterminds France's passage past Portugal and into the final of Euro 2000 on 2 July.

Leboeuf, who played alongside Zidane in France's 1998 World Cup winning side, described his performance in the 2-1 quarter-final victory over Spain as "fantastic" - despite the Juventus star missing an open goal.



"Figo's got more influence in his team, and I think he is more efficient in front of goal - but Zizou has got some incredible skills and he will soon be much better than him"

Frank Leboeuf
"It shows he has a big character, he never goes down and always does the best for his team, said the Stamford Bridge favourite, who played well in their final Euro 2000 first round game against Holland.

He added that the semi-final will not just be about Figo and Zidane.

"Unfortunately for us, Portugal have so many players who have great talent so the semi-final will be a tough game."

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See also:

25 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Raul miss sends France through
25 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Camacho bitter at defeat
25 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Spain v France clockwatch
26 Jun 00 | Photo Gallery
France v Spain in pictures
25 Jun 00 | The BBC Team
Zidane personifies France's quality
23 Jun 00 | England
Travel is Leboeuf's England cure
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