Draw in Italy boosts spirits in France camp
MILAN, Sept 9 (Reuters) - France host Scotland in a Euro 2008 qualifier this week without suspended striker Thierry Henry but Saturday's 0-0 draw with Italy has boosted their confidence as they continue to top Group B.
Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery, one of the standout midfielders during a tough-tackling stalemate at the San Siro, was encouraged by France's performance against the world champions in an electric atmosphere.
'It was not an easy match. They wanted to win in front of their crowd so it is a good result here at the San Siro against a difficult team to play against,' Ribery told reporters.
'Now the match against Scotland is important. If we win, I think we will have played two good matches.'
France, who will miss Henry for Wednesday's match after the striker picked up a booking for tripping Fabio Cannavaro, have 19 points with Scotland second on 18 after their 3-1 win over Lithuania. Italy are in third on 17.
An 80,000 sell-out came to the see the repeat of the World Cup final but home fans marred the occasion by booing the French national anthem.
Italy captain Cannavaro joined coach Roberto Donadoni and team mates in condemning their own supporters.
'We need to say sorry to the French. We have done a bad thing,' he said.
In truth, Donadoni is probably more concerned about Wednesday's tricky trip to fourth-placed Ukraine.
Striker Luca Toni failed to recover from a thigh strain for the France clash and has now been replaced by Juventus forward Vincenzo Iaquinta for the visit to Kiev, the Italian federation website said.
Gennaro Gattuso is also suspended after his yellow card on Saturday.
Donadoni was not disappointed with the goalless draw but said the fact the Italian season had started so much later than the French campaign had made a difference.
'If the French championship is in the seventh week and ours in the second, it says something. There is a gap in their physical condition but I am satisfied with how the boys reacted,' he said.