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Domenech may ignore pressure to pick in-form Ribery

Written by: Staff

PARIS, May 12 (Reuters) A large proportion of France's 60 million armchair national team coaches have already picked Franck Ribery in their World Cup squad.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Raymond Domenech will when he names his 23-man list on Sunday.

Arguably the finest player in Ligue 1 this season, the attacking midfielder from Olympique Marseille has featured on the front page of every single sports publication in the country over recent weeks.

Both a fighter and an artist, the 23-year-old Ribery is being hailed as the new Zinedine Zidane and any French soccer fan will tell you he has to go to Germany.

The problem is the under-21 international has so far always been overlooked by national coach Domenech, who does not like being told what he should do.

Among others anxiously waiting for Sunday's announcement is Arsenal's Robert Pires, who won the last of his 79 caps for France in October 2004.

The 32-year-old has enjoyed a good season for Arsenal, who will face Barcelona in the Champions League final on Wednesday in Paris, but he has had a difficult relationship with Domenech since publicly criticising the coach's tactics.

A safer bet to join Zinedine Zidane, Claude Makelele, Patrick Vieira and company in France's midfield is Barcelona winger Ludovic Giuly, the perfect player to bring on when speed and creativity are needed to decide a game.

NO SUSPENSE Defence is not a concern for Domenech who has a mixture of experience and youth to choose from with Lilian Thuram, William Gallas, Jean-Alain Boumsong, Willy Sagnol and Eric Abidal all certain to win their ticket to Germany.

Others, starting with Roma's Philippe Mexes and Manchester United's Mikael Silvestre, will have to wait for Sunday to know whether they will make the trip.

There is no suspense at all for the goalkeepers with Olympique Marseille's Fabien Barthez, Olympique Lyon's Gregory Coupet and Paris St Germain-bound Mickael Landreau all certain to be picked.

Domenech still has to decide who, from Barthez or Coupet, will be his number one in Germany but he will probably not say so as early as Sunday.

Up front, Arsenal's Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet of Juventus have to be on the list, but who will join them is anybody's guess.

Liverpool's Djibril Cisse and Lyon's Sidney Govou are among several candidates as is Louis Saha, back into the reckoning after scintillating displays over the past few months.

The Manchester United forward has pushed Dutch scoring machine Ruud Van Nistelrooy on to the Old Trafford substitutes' bench, which says it all.


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