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Monday, 12 June, 2000, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
United future takes on United past
Peter Schmeichel lets his feelings show
Peter Schmeichel lets his feelings show
By BBC Sport Online's Pete Lansley in Bruges.

You would not be well advised to go giving Peter Schmeichel a big kiss on the head.

Denmark's former Manchester United goalkeeper would probably bite your nose off - and then yell at you for bad positioning.

Fabien Barthez, whose pate-kissing from Laurent Blanc became a lucky routine during France 98, is the latest custodian charged with filling the great Dane's over-sized gloves at Old Trafford.

And judging from Sunday night's straight-forward opening victory, Barthez appears a cuddlier character than his United predecessor.

Fabien Barthez
Barthez likes to play on the big stage
It was not a night for comparing fairly their relative merits: Schmeichel was up against the world champions' awesome forward line; Barthez, against the distinctly non-sizzling Danes.

For all that, Barthez's save within two minutes was absolutely crucial as Jon Dahl Tomasson was clean through.

It shows Sir Alex Ferguson has bought a goalkeeper starting on his toes.

Schmeichel, who moved to Sporting Lisbon last year, said: "It was a very disappointing miss. I don't think what a good save, I think bloody hell we've missed another chance.

"But I thought from the word go to the end of the game we were in control."

I thought from the word go to the end of the game we were in control

Peter Schmeichel
Your roving reporter wasn't in the mood to argue with the amiable giant but France, strolling to victory in a mesmerising performance of class and showmanship, did appear a league above Denmark.

Scando-blond Schmeichel, replete in his luminous peppermint green jersey and Mickey Mouse gloves, was bang up to date by being the first to make the most of the new six-second ruling which has overtaken the steps limit for goalkeepers holding the ball.

Catching a cross, the 36-year-old sprinted officiously through his crowded penalty area, as if he had a plane to catch, using as many strides as possible before unleashing one of those amazing 60-yard throws.

He may have played 122 times for Denmark but his enthusiasm remains undiminished.

"If I wasn't motivated to play in a tournament like this I'd definitely quit the game," he told Sport Online.

"I play football because I love playing. The day I wake up and find that I don't take any pleasure from football, that's the day I'm going to quit.

The day I wake up and find that I don't take any pleasure from football, that's the day I'm going to quit

Peter Schmeichel
"At the moment I'm really enjoying it though I didn't enjoy this game."

The bald Barthez, who will be 29 on the day of the Brussels semi-final, retains his trademark short-sleeved black shirt and ability to spring out to catch a cross from nowhere despite his limited stature.

Shorter than Schmeichel by eight centimetres, the former Monaco keeper is much more reserved when his team-mates are in possession.

Schmeichel, by contrast, prowls beyond his penalty area, barking out encouragement and displeasure in equal measure.

Even the ball boys would feel the ferocity of his tongue when they were slow in getting a ball back into play.

Schmeichel preferred not to pass his verdict on the goalkeeper expected to do rather better than Mark Bosnich and Massimo Taibi in replacing him with the Premiership champions.

"Let me soak up this result, eh," he said.

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See also:

11 Jun 00 | The BBC Team
Saturday night football fever
12 Jun 00 | Photo Gallery
France v Denmark in pictures
14 May 00 | AudioVideo
Holland escape with lucky win
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