Up for the cup — France

The French starting 11 is now expected to be G- Fabien Barthez; D-Willy Sagnol, Eric Abidal, Lilian Thuram, William Gallas; M- Claude Makelele, Patrick Vieira, Florent Malouda, Zinedine Zidane (captain); F- Thierry Henry, Djibril Cisse. On paper this is a formidable lineup — one that could well advance deep into the tournament. Malouda may be the “x” factor player most successful World Cup teams uncover. An even better bet is the exciting (and younger) Franck Ribery, who apparently will come off the bench.

However, most of these guys have just finished grueling seasons, and with an average age of more than 29 (not even counting Barthez) this team is probably too old to go all the way.

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