IT is set to be a busy sporting weekend in France with the quarter final against Brazil in the World Cup and the start of le Tour.
Saturday will see France take on Brazil in a repeat of the 1998 final that les Bleus went on to win 3 – 0, thanks to a couple of goals from Zinédine Zidane.
And on the same day the Tour de France starts in Strasbourg offering a glimpse into corners of the countryside rarely seen, and this year without a Lance Armstrong in sight.
The progress of the French team through the World Cup has been dogged by rumours of discontent in the camp, with reserve goalkeeper Grégory Coupet even storming out at one point.
But despite some plodding displays in the group stages the team’s 3 – 1 victory over Spain in the second round seems to have instilled a new vigour into an ageing squad.
This victory, capped off by a smooth Zidane strike, has seen a new belief grow within the squad and their supporters, who believe that they have the experience to beat a Brazilian team that many have tipped to lift the World Cup.
It should be an intriguing match-up and is likely to be a tight affair, but if France is able to support Thierry Henry with pace down the wings they could surprise Brazil, who have been untroubled throughout the tournament and may struggle to lift their game if up against it.
And being up against just one man is something that riders in the Tour de France have experienced over the past seven years as Lance Armstrong swept all before him.
But on Saturday he won’t be on his bike ready to face the most gruelling sporting event in the world as he has decided his seventh straight win last year was to be the last time he took part in the race.
So the field, whilst not completely wide open as German cyclist Jan Ullrich and Italian Ivan Basso are the favourites, could spring some surprises and see lesser-known competitors establish a name for themselves.
As ever there are sure to be some high octane finishes, spectacular crashes and Herculean mountain rides before the carnival rolls in to Paris on July 23.