Football: World Cup - Vieira to face Danes

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THE ARSENAL midfielder Patrick Vieira - called up by France for his first match in the World Cup finals against Denmark today - has said he will play his normal physical game, despite the rash of yellow and red cards in the tournament so far.

The fiery 21-year-old was frequently cautioned last season when he was a key figure in the Gunners' Double-winning side. But Vieira - brought in alongside club-mate Emmanuel Petit for captain Didier Deschamps, who is on one yellow card - has promised not to alter his style.

"I will be more careful but it won't change my game. I have a game that I wouldn't say is aggressive, but full of commitment," he said. "It's up to me to adapt, as players like me are penalised more than others. While a tackle in England wouldn't merit a booking, it could bring one here. It's up to the referee.

"In the position where I play there are numerous individual battles and it is better to win them without being dirty. You don't go out to hurt anybody."

Vieira is expecting a physical tussle in midfield. "Denmark have a great team with some talented players, so there will be no quarter given. They need a win and although we're already in the second round, we must finish top of the group."

Centre-back Frank Leboeuf returns to the France side as well today in place of Laurent Blanc, who is also on a yellow card, and Marcel Desailly, his new partner at Chelsea next season, is happy to welcome him back.

Desailly has not played alongside Leboeuf in the national side since March, when France lost 1-0 to Russia in Moscow - their only defeat together in six-and-a-half matches.

Denmark's coach, Bo Johansson, is expected to reinforce the wings to combat France's power down the flanks. "It's the defence that needs to be strengthened," said Derby's Jacob Laursen, who may return to the Danish team.

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