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Can France Win World Cup Again? - 2002-04-22

As the defending champion, France will open the World Cup on May 31 in Seoul, South Korea, with a Group-A match against Senegal. The other teams in the group are Uruguay and Denmark.

France followed up its World Cup title by winning the European Championship in 2000. Only Germany has held both trophies at the same time, and that was nearly 30 years ago.

International football commentator Derek Rae believes France has an excellent chance of repeating as World Cup champion.

"If anything, their team is stronger now than it was four years ago, and they proved that a couple years ago at Euro 2000, when they were by far and away the most effective team and the most stylish team."

France is led by midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who has twice won World Player of the Year honors. Rae says the difference between the 1998 French team and this one is the players up front.

"Four years ago, they didn't have a particularly strong attack. Now they have David Trezeguet who is banging the goals in for Juventus, and Thierry Henry, who's had a remarkable season with Arsenal in England. So, I think there are now better players for Zidane to be able to connect with."

Derek Rae believes France should have no problem reaching the second round out of Group-A. He sees the French having a good World Cup start playing newcomer Senegal, beating Uruguay and doing no worse than a draw against Denmark.