- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2002

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Will Zinedine Zidane's hoped-for return bring a stunning French revival, or does the defending World Cup champion have nothing left?
France, which has yet to score, must beat Denmark by a two-goal margin tomorrow to avoid elimination. No titleholder has exited the tournament in the first round since Brazil in 1966.
The midfield star missed France's first two matches, a 1-0 defeat to newcomer Senegal and a 0-0 tie against Uruguay, with a thigh injury. Zidane is training again, and hopes are high that with "Zizou" back France can surmount its biggest challenge since the last World Cup final.
"It would be a sign of destiny if Zidane could play with us against Denmark," French defender Bixente Lizarazu said. "If we win 2-0 and qualify, we can go very far in this competition."
Fate has been kind to France before in tight spots.
In 1998, Brazil was the overwhelming favorite to win the World Cup, yet France ran away with the title game 3-0. Zidane scored the first two goals.
In the 2000 European Championship final, France trailed Italy 1-0 when Sylvain Wiltord scored the tying goal late and David Trezeguet won the title in overtime.
Both times, France had Zidane. After the Senegal and Uruguay matches, the team has realized how vital he is.
"We are not used to playing without Zidane," Lizarazu said. "The last two games were a special situation for us. The strikers are used to receiving balls from him."
Zidane was replaced by Youri Djorkaeff and Johan Micoud in France's first two matches. Neither played up to his standard.
On Saturday, Zidane trained with teammates for the first time since tearing a left thigh muscle in a May 26 warmup match against South Korea. He also practiced yesterday.
"He looked very good. He was training with full power," Lizarazu said.
"Zidane will play against Denmark," Lizarazu said. "I don't know what the team's medical staff will say, but I am convinced that he'll be there.
"It's like a quarterfinal or a semifinal game, and even if Zidane's not 100 percent fit, it's important that he plays. We can do the running for him."
Zidane isn't France's only concern. Defender Frank Leboeuf is highly uncertain because of a groin injury.
Striker Thierry Henry, the English Premier League's top scorer this season, is suspended for the Denmark game after receiving a red card against Uruguay.
Midfielder Emmanuel Petit, who has two yellow cards, also will miss tomorrow's match in Incheon, South Korea. His place likely will go to Zidane's Real Madrid teammate Claude Makelele.
Denmark coach Morten Olsen is expected to field the same team as in the two previous matches but will leave himself the option to boost the midfield in the latter stages if Denmark is ahead or tied.
"France are the favorites, and they will risk everything against us because they have to score twice," Olsen said.
France sits at the bottom of Group A with one point. Denmark and Senegal lead with four points each, although the Danes are ahead on goal difference. Uruguay also has one point but leads France because it has scored a goal.
France has built up an impressive record against the Danes in recent years. It beat them 2-1 in the opening round of the last World Cup, 3-0 in the first round of Euro 2000 and 1-0 in a friendly last August.


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