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By ESPN Staff
Apr 11, 2006

Barthez ready to prove his worth ahead of finals

PARIS, April 11 (Reuters) - Olympique Marseille goalkeeper Fabien Barthez says he concentrating only on his own form and hopes that will be enough to make him France's number one at the World Cup finals.

Barthez, who helped Les Bleus to their 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 victories, is now in competition with his Olympique Lyon counterpart Gregory Coupet.

Coupet has been in outstanding form this season, helping Lyon to a Champions League quarter-final and to an imminent record fifth consecutive league title.

Last season, Barthez was handed a five-month suspension for spitting at a referee during a friendly game between Marseille and Wydad Casablanca.

'I just concentrate on myself,' Barthez told sports daily L'Equipe on Tuesday.

'Since 1992, I've been playing for teams who enter a league season to win the title. I've had to question myself for almost the past 15 years.

'I don't think of the World Cup. I know everything goes fast, I know everything can change within 48 hours,' the former Manchester United keeper added.

Coupet, however, seems to be in pole position to be France's first choice when they kick off their World Cup challenge in Germany in June.

France coach Raymond Domenech, who had indicated he would make his choice ahead of a friendly against Slovakia last month, has yet to decide.

In Germany, Juergen Klinsmann has announced that Arsenal's Jens Lehmann would be his number one, taking over from Bayern Munich's Oliver Kahn, who was one of the heroes of their run to the World Cup final in 2002.

Kahn had been voted the tournament's best goalkeeper.