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Fear can help France: Domenech

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 12 Jun 2008

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The F factor can help motivate France against Holland here Friday in a match that has taken on even greater significance since the opening Euro 2008 draw with Romania.

“Fear and danger is always an engine driving motivation for sport at a high level,” France manager Raymond Domenech said here on the eve of his team's second Group C game.

“But we've had that fear ever since the draw (in December) – we knew this wasn't a group we could stroll through.”

France are living up to their reputation as slow starters – at the 2006 World Cup they gradually cranked up the volume to make it all the way to the final, a point not lost on Bayern Munich defender Willy Sagnol.

“We're used to starting slowly. We're not in great danger but it's true a win (against Romania) would have helped.

“At the World Cup we weren't the most spectacular, Italy neither, while Argentina and Spain were sparkling in the first round. We started slower but went further.

“We put more pressure on us, it's difficult to explain. It's up to us now to lift our heads.”

France, while boasting one of the best defences in the business which hasn't leaked a goal in four internationals, has struggled on the attacking front and so the return of a fully fit Thierry Henry will likely be pivotal in seeing off the Dutch.

Sagnol remarked: “Thierry's had a hard season in Barcelona but we all know Thierry Henry – the top scorer since football began in France and of course he's very important to us.

“He's had a hard time in Barcelona (last season) but I'm sure he's very motivated and wants to show French and Spanish fans that Thierry Henry is still one of the best players in the world.”

He added: “The Dutch like to play football more than Romania. We defend well but with Henry, Benzema, Ribery and Anelka I'm sure we'll have scoring chances.”

Domenech refused to be drawn on whether the striker would be making his Euro debut against the Dutch.

“We'll wait and see tomorrow – he's one of my 23 players who is operational. He came through 45 minutes of a training match on Wednesday.”

The manager, asked how he thought France would fare against a Dutch team that tore Italy apart in their opening game of the group of death, shrugged: “I hope we'll be sparkling and good, we'll try to do our best but we're up against a solid, organised team that plays well, with talented players.”

On one point the French know they are already losers – and that's in the stands at the Stade de Suisse where the 15,000 or so Oranje army will far outnumber the travelling French fans.

“I hope our fans will form pockets of resistance and support us for as long as possible,” said Les Bleus' manager.

“It's a cultural thing. That's something football in France has still to work on, to build a bridge with the public to support the national team.”

He was then asked about the date for the must-win game – Friday 13th, and with a grin replied: “I'm not superstitious – it brings bad luck.”

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