US SoccerUS Soccer

June 11 Match Previews

Denmark vs. France
Incheon World Cup Stadium (Capacity:  52,179)
Group A - Suwon, Korea - 3:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN at 2:25 a.m. ET

No one thought that France would get to their third group match without scoring a goal and needing a two-goal win to advance to the Round of 16.  To add to France’s woes, Thierry Henry will miss the match as he is serving a one-match suspension for a red card he received in a scoreless draw with Uruguay on June 6. 

Against Denmark, France is expected to be bolstered by the return of two-time World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane.  Zidane missed his team’s first two tournament matches with a thigh injury suffered against Korea in the team’s final World Cup warm-up match.  Goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, who was named the goalkeeper of the tournament at the 1998 World Cup, had a strong performance in the shutout against Uruguay after his error allowed Senegal to score the game’s only goal in the opening 1-0 loss.

Denmark enters the match against France with four points, and a win or a draw will see them through to the second round for the second straight World Cup.  (In 1998 the team advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to Brazil.)  The Danes topped Uruguay 2-1 in their opening game in an impressive perforance from Morten Olsen’s team. 

Amazingly, these teams have met four times since 1984 in a tournament, and each time the winner of the match has gone on to win the tournament.  On the way to the 1984 European Championship, France topped Denmark 1-0 in the opening game.  In 1992, Denmark needed a win in the final group match to advance in the European Championship, and the Danes got that win against France.  Denmark went on to win the title.  France won 3-0 in 2000 at the European Championship.

At the 1998 World Cup France topped Denmark 2-1 in the third match of group play – a result that will not be enough to see France through to the second round this year. 

Could this match see the end of one of this sport's greatest teams?  France are just the second team in history to hold World Cup and European Championship trophies at the same time (Germany won the 1972 Euro title and the 1974 World Cup).

FIFA Ranking: 20th (tied)
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won UEFA “Group 3” (6-0-4; 22 GF, 6 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 3 – 1986 (9th), 1998 (8th), 2002
Overall Record in WC:  5-3-1
Manager: Morten Olsen (DEN)
Championship Honors: 1992 European Cup champions; 1995
Confederations Cup champions

FIFA Ranking: 1st
2002 World Cup qualifying: Qualified as defending champion
World Cup final appearances: 11 – 1930 (7th), 1934 (9th), 1938 (6th), 1954 (11th), 1958 (3rd), 1966 (13th), 1978 (12th), 1982 (4th), 1986 (3rd), 1998 (1st), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 21-14-6
Manager: Roger Lemerre (FRA)
Championship Honors:  1984 Olympic champions; 1998 World Cup champions; 1984 & 2000 European Cup champions; 2001 Confederations Cup champions

Senegal vs. Uruguay
Suwon World Cup Stadium (Capacity:  44,047)
Group A - Suwon, Korea - 3:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN2 at 2:25 a.m. ET

Senegal needs only a draw to advance to the second round, while Uruguay needs a two-goal win to advance.  Regardless of the result, this Senegal team will always be remembered for their stunning 1-0 win over France in the tournament opener. 

The African runner-ups are one of four rookie nations in the 2002 tournament (China, Ecuador and Slovenia are the others), but are the only team still in the hunt for the second round.  (The other teams have combined for zero wins and six losses.) 

Uruguay was the last team to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, and were clearly outclassed by Denmark in the opener.  A hard-working team led by forward Sebastian Abreu and Alvaro Recoba, Uruguay gave France a lot to handle in the back and only Fabien Barthez's great performance in goal kept France in the game - and, as a result, in the tournament.

FIFA Ranking: 43rd
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won Africa “Group 3” (4-1-3; 14 GF, 2 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 1 – 2002
Overall Record in WC: First appearance
Manager: Bruno Metsu (SEN)

FIFA Ranking: Tied 20th    
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished fifth in CONMEBOL Final Group (7-5-6; 19 GF, 13 GA); defeated Australia in home-and-home playoff 3-1 on aggregate
World Cup final appearances: 10 – 1930 (1st), 1950 (1st), 1954 (4th), 1962 (12th), 1966 (7th), 1970 (4th), 1974 (13th), 1986 (16th), 1990 (16th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 15-14-8
Manager: Victor Pua (URU)
Championship Honors: 1930 & 1950 World Cup champions; 1916, 1917, 1920, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1935, 1942, 1956, 1959, 1967, 1987, & 1995
Copa America champions (13 times) 

Cameroon vs. Germany
Ecopa Stadium (Capacity:  51,349)
Group E - Shizuoka, Japan  - 8:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN at 7:25 a.m. ET

This battle between the group leaders should be a good one.  Cameroon needs a win to clinch a spot in the next round, but due to Germany’s superior goal difference, Rudi Voller’s team can secure a Round of 16 berth with a draw.  The two countries have never met in an international soccer match.

Both teams would be closer to the second round if they had not surrendered late goals to Ireland.  Cameroon will need to find a way to stop Germany’s Miroslav Klose, who is the tournament’s leading scorer with four goals.  Klose opened the tournament with a hat trick against Saudi Arabia and then added Germany’s only goal in the draw with Ireland.  After a knee injury scare, Klose is expected to be fit to face Cameroon.   

Cameroon played a brilliant first half against Ireland, but has been less than impressive in their following three halves.  Cameroon is extremely talented going forward, and has one of the tournament’s top duos in Patrick M’boma and Samuel Eto’o.  Cameroon is the only African team to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals, and a win against Germany would put them one win away from another quarterfinal berth. 

FIFA Ranking: 12th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished second in UEFA “Group 9” (5-1-2; 14 GF, 10 GA); defeated Ukraine in home-and-home playoff 5-2 on aggregate score.
World Cup final appearances: 15 – 1934 (3rd), 1938 (10th), 1954 (1st), 1958 (4th), 1962 (7th), 1966 (2nd), 1970 (3rd), 1974 (1st), 1978 (6th), 1982 (2nd), 1986 (2nd), 1990 (1st), 1994 (5th), 1998 (7th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 45-16-17
Manager: Rudi Voller (GER)
Championship Honors: 1954, 1974 & 1990 World Cup champions; 1972, 1980 & 1996 European Cup champions

FIFA Ranking: 18th (tied)
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won Africa “Group 1” (6-1-1; 14 GF, 4 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 5 – 1982 (17th), 1990 (7th), 1994 (22nd), 1998 (25th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 3-5-6
Manager: Robert Corfu (FRA)
Championship Honors: 2000 Olympic champions; 1984, 1988 & 2000 African Nations Cup champions

Saudi Arabia vs. Ireland
International Stadium (Capacity: 70,654)
Group E - Yokohama, Japan - 8:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN2 at 7:25 a.m ET

Saudi Arabia put on a much-improved performance in their second match – losing 1-0 to African Champions Cameroon.  Unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, that solid result came after an 8-0 walloping the Saudis suffered at the hands of Germany.  Through the first two round Saudi Arabia had allowed the most goals and also had the worst goal differential (-9). 

Ironically, Saudi Arabia scored more goals (43 goals) in qualifying than any other qualified team, but is one of four teams yet to score in the World Cup. 

Ireland has mastered the second-half comeback this tournament.  Germany and Cameroon have both outplayed the Irish and gone ahead in the first half, only to see Ireland storm back and find a late equalizer.  The equalizer Ireland got against Germany could not have come much later, as Robbie Keane scored on one of the last kicks of the game.

The Irish have done well to fight past the initial turmoil regarding the shock dismissal of captain Roy Keane (no relation to Robbie).  

Robbie Keane has been one of Ireland’s top players to date, but Germany dominated Saudi Arabia in the air (scoring five goals on headers), so the Saudis should beware of Irish forward Niall Quinn coming off the bench.

Saudi Arabia
FIFA Ranking: 34th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won Asia “Group 1” (5-1-2; 17 GF, 8 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 3 – 1994 (12th), 1998 (28th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 2-4-1
Manager: Nasser Al-Johar (KSA)
Championship Honors: 1984, 1988 & 1996 Asian Cup champions

FIFA Ranking: 18th (tied)
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished second in UEFA “Group 2” (7-0-3; 23 GF, 5 GA); defeated Iran in UEFA/Asian home-and-home playoff 2-1 on aggregate score.
World Cup final appearances: 3 – 1990 (9th), 1994 (16th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 1-3-5
Manager: Mick McCarthy (IRE)