France coach Laurent Blanc,
disappointed by his team's draw with England in the Group D
opener, said his players must show greater self-assurance and
take more risks in their next match against Ukraine on Friday.
The 46-year-old, speaking on Tuesday in the unlikely
surroundings of Donetsk's Chamber of Commerce building where
France hold their media briefings, also said England needed to
be more adventurous if they wanted to progress.
Blanc said he still believed Spain remained the favourites
to retain their trophy despite their opening draw with Italy.
"We need to show more self-belief and assurance in these
type of big matches," he told reporters after France stretched
their unbeaten run to 22 matches with Monday's 1-1 draw.
"They [England] dominated us for the first half-an-hour and
we could have collapsed. If [James] Milner had taken his chance,
we could have been 2-0 down after 30 minutes and that would have
made it very difficult for us to come back.
"If you are shy and if you don't take risks you will get
punished. We should have played with more width than we did and
that is something we have to work on.
"We are going to evaluate all of this and decide if we have
to make any changes because the game against Ukraine is going to
very tough, very complicated for us."
England took the lead after 30 minutes when Joleon Lescott
thundered in a header but France equalised nine minutes later
when Samir Nasri scored past Joe Hart. Lescott, Nasri and Hart
all know each other well as team mates at Manchester City.
England's defence otherwise stood firm but Blanc said they
needed to be expand their horizons if they wanted to make an
impression at the tournament.
"They played a kind of false pressing game with their two
front men but, in reality, they stayed very deep around 60 or 80
metres from our goal and they gave us space to create," he said.
"But we did not do enough, and they will have to have more
attacking ambitions if they want to win games and progress.
"However, they are very difficult to beat in the air, and
no-one will find it easy to beat them."
France and England, with a point each, trail Ukraine who top
the group after their 2-1 victory over Sweden thanks to two
goals by talismanic striker Andriy Shevchenko and Blanc said he
was delighted that the old warrior, now 35, had scored.
"I read an article four or five days ago that said he had
such bad back problems that he could not even walk, never mind
train," said Blanc.
"Well the Ukrainian idol gave the best answer to that
article with his two goals to prove that the big players are
always ready for the big tournaments and he has given hope to
"This really makes me happy, because I know him personally
and I like him."
Blanc added that having watched all 16 teams, he still
thought Spain remained favourites to win the tournament after
their 1-1 draw with Italy, although he was also impressed by
Russia's 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic.
"Spain had a difficult game with Italy but I still believe
they are the favourites, along with Germany. But Russia have
made a really good impression and were very effective going
forward scoring four goals," he said.
"But, for me, Spain are still the team to beat."
Tony Pulis is set to leave Premier League side Stoke City
Manchester City and the New York Yankees have formed a new Major League Soccer team
Real Madrid president under scrutiny after latest coaching project ends in disarray
Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho will part company at the end of the current season
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010