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France must keep cool against Portugal, says Gallas

Written by: Staff
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MUNICH, July 4 (Reuters) France must hold their nerve when they play Portugal in a potentially volatile World Cup semi-final, defender William Gallas said today.

''We will have to be totally focused during 90 minutes,'' Gallas told reporters before tomorrw's game in Munich.

''Portugal are very patient and will try to destabilise us. It's true that they are able to do that, to upset their opponents with their style of play and with little fouls. We will need cool heads.'' Gallas was aware that past battles between the teams were marred by ugly scenes, notably in the Euro 2000 semi-final, and said he feared Portugal's players might try to influence the referee.

''They do like to dive,'' he said. ''A lot will depend on the refereeing.'' Gallas predicted a tight contest and said he hoped it would be a fair one.

LOW BLOWS ''Both teams will try to neutralise each other,'' he said. ''It will be intense and we hope there will not be too many low blows.

Football must stay a game.'' Five players in France's expected starting lineup have been booked in the knockout stage and would miss a possible final if they received another yellow card tomorrow.

''Those players will give it all they have and will not be playing thinking that they might be booked,'' Gallas said.

''Anyway, we're 23 in the group and if anybody were to be suspended for the final, somebody else would be ready to step in.'' France, who have hit top form after a sluggish start to the tournament, have not got carried away after beating champions Brazil 1-0 in the quarter-finals, noted Gallas.

''We're not thinking we're the favourites just because we beat Brazil,'' the Chelsea player said. ''Portugal also did what they had to (do) to reach the last four. The chances are 50-50''.

The winners of Wednesday's match face hosts Germany or Italy in the July 9 final in Berlin.

REUTERS SHB RN2340

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