Group G
France 0-0 Switzerland

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Honours were even as France and Switzerland played out a disappointing 0-0 draw in Frankfurt.

France, tipped as possible winners of the tournament, were desperately poor against a very ordinary Swiss side in a result that will no doubt bring opprobrium on coach Raymond Domenech.

Henry, not exactly renowned for his aerial prowess, headed over from France’s first chance after he was found unmarked by Wiltord.

Ribery, starting a game for the first time for France, was prominent in the early exchanges although he was getting little joy out of Magnin, the Swiss right back.

France’s best chance in the early stages came on 15 minutes when Sagnol chipped to Vieira at the far post, but the Juventus midfielder’s volley was hammered into the ground and bounced harmlessly over the bar.

Fabian Barthez was called into action on 18 minutes Switzerland launched their first attack, but the Marseille keeper was untroubled by long-range effort.

Switzerland missed a wonderful opportunity to take the lead on 24 minutes when a Barnetta free-kick rebounded off the post to Frei, who, faced with an open goal, inexplicably missed the target.

At the other end, Ribery scooped an effort over the bar after a good run from Henry. The two players combined again this time Ribery setting up Henry but the Arsenal striker’s shot was blocked by the arm of Mueller. Fortunately for the defender, referee Ivanov missed the incident.

The half-time whistle came as a relief after a disappointing opening 45 minutes. France had taken the initiative but despite the presence of Henry they looked toothless up front, while Switzerland, other than Frei’s astonishing miss, had little to offer going forward.

Zidane’s frustration with his team’s lethargy was illustrated after the break when he clapped his hands in an attempt to elicit some movement from his colleagues. His exhortations had the desired effect and a slick interchange created an opening for Vieira but the Juventus man scuffed his shot.

Matters weren’t helped by a fussy referee who stopped the play for countless minor infringements, meaning the match never developed any rhythm.

In a rare foray forward, Barnetta burst into the penalty area but faced with Barthez he elected to cross rather than shoot and the ball was cleared by Gallas.

Against the run of play Switzerland had the chance to take the lead when Gygax rose five yards out but he headed straight at Barthez and the French keeper scrambled the ball to safety.

The closest France came to scoring a dismal second half was when Saha chested down for Dhorasoo but the substitute smashed his shot wide of the post.

At the other end Switzerland almost nicked it in injury time, but Frei handled a free-kick just inches from the line.

The sight of Zidane arguing with his teammates was a perfect illustration of the discord within the French camp. Unless that is resolved their challenge in Germany will be short-lived.

France: Fabien Barthez; Willy Sagnol, Lilian Thuram, William Gallas, Eric Abidal; Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele; Franck Ribery, Zinedine Zidane, Sylvain Wiltord; Thierry Henry.

Subs used: Saha 69 (for Ribery), Dhorasoo 84 (for Wiltord)

Bookings: Abidal 64, Zidane 70 Sagnol 92.

Switzerland: Pascal Zuberbuehler; Ludovic Magnin, Philippe Senderos, Patrick Mueller, Philipp Degen; Raphael Wicky, Johann Vogel, Daniel Gygax, Ricardo Cabanas, Tranquillo Barnetta; Alex Frei.

Subs used: Gygax 57 (for Streller), Djourou 74 (for Muller) Margairaz 81
(for Wicky).

Bookings: Magnin 42, Barnetta 45, Degen 56, Cabanas 72, Frei 92.

Referee: Valentin Ivanov (Russia)

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