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France has world's best players says Evra


TIGNES, France (Reuters) -- France has the best players in the world and is feared by its World Cup rivals, defender Patrice Evra said on Wednesday.

Not listed among the favourites for the June 11-July 11 finals in South Africa after an embarrassing early Euro 2008 exit and poor form since, the Manchester United left back believes France's wounded proud can propel it to glory.

"We practically have the best players in the world at every position," Evra told reporters at France's training camp in the French Alps resort of Tignes.

"That does not make us the best team in the world, not yet anyway, and we have work to do to become that but we're going to the World Cup to win."

Former world and European champion France, who needed a handball from Thierry Henry to qualify for the finals through a playoff at the expense of Ireland, has been booed by its own fans at every match lately.

Raymond Domenech's side also did little to suggest it could make an impact at the World Cup when it was outclassed 2-0 by European champion Spain in its last outing in March.

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Evra believes, however, they can turn things around and recapture their brilliant best with perfect timing.

"We're starting from scratch. This is the World Cup, the most important thing in the world, more important than a championship or the Champions League. It's a privilege and an honour.

"The media say the supporters do not believe in us but I know they do and I also know other teams respect and fear us," Evra said.

The elegant 29-year-old says France can heal its wounded pride and prove doubters wrong.

"Everybody seems to believe that we're going there on a safari, that we are not among the favourites, but our pride can help us go places," he said.

For the time being Evra has to hike up a glacier overlooking Tignes, where France prepared for its 1998 World Cup and 2000 European championship triumphs, and he does not like the idea.

"It sounds cold and I don't like the cold," he said. "Just the word, glacier, that's not for me."