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French know Swiss won't be running scared

Written by: Staff
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CLAIREFONTAINE, France, June 4: France, who know all about poor starts to World Cup campaigns, are braced for a tricky test against Switzerland in their opening Group G game.

''Switzerland are one of the teams who have improved the most over the past few years,'' defender Jean-Alain Boumsong told reporters at France's training camp outside Paris today.

''They have a young group and they play without pressure. They will make the most of being outsiders. It will not be easy at all.'' France play one last warm-up game against China on Wednesday in St Etienne before heading for Germany but the players' minds are clearly already set on the match against Switzerland on June 13 in Stuttgart.

The 1998 world champions, who started a disastrous run at the 2002 finals with a shock 1-0 defeat by Senegal, need a good start in Germany before seemingly easier matches against South Korea and Togo.

''We have played Switzerland a lot lately,'' said Boumsong.

''They are no longer afraid of the big teams.'' France, who had struggled to beat their Alpine neighbours 3-1 at Euro 2004, met them again in qualifying for the 2006 finals, drawing twice.

Switzerland, whose preparations include a convincing draw with Italy, will also be under pressure in a match that could go a long way in deciding who wins the group.

France worried their fans in the build-up to the finals with a laboured 1-0 win over Mexico before stepping up a gear to beat Denmark 2-0. They believe they can restore pride after their embarrassing early exit four years ago.

''Switzerland have improved but so have we,'' said midfielder Alou Diarra. ''We are among the five or six teams who can go all the way. We know what we're capable of. Now we have to show it.''

REUTERS

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