France face a dilemma ahead of a
game they can afford to lose when they take on eliminated Sweden
in their final Euro 2012 Group D match on Tuesday.
They may have to decide whether they want to top the group
and avoid a potential quarter-final against world champions
Spain or would prefer to finish second and stay in the comfort
and familiarity of their Donetsk base.
Coach Laurent Blanc may also ponder resting his three
players who have been booked in the tournament but he was
adamant Les Bleus will try to win the game, even though a
one-goal defeat could still see them through.
"It is always difficult to play against Sweden and we will
prepare to win it," he told reporters.
The balance, however, is difficult to find.
France train at the excellent facilities used by Shakhtar
Donetsk and it has been proving beneficial.
"It is the ideal structure. We never experienced this
before. Everything is available on site and it helps us gain a
lot of time," said Francois Darras, one of three France
If France finish top of the group they would need to travel
to Kiev from Donetsk early on the day before the quarter-final,
losing precious recuperation time.
France, who snatched their first win in a major championship
since 2006 when they beat co-hosts Ukraine 2-0 in their last
match, would head the standings if they beat Sweden and England
defeated Ukraine without making up an inferior goal difference.
They have four points like England, with Ukraine in third
place on three and Sweden on none.
A draw in both games would put France and England through
with Les Bleus top on goal difference.
With the scenarios favouring France, Blanc could be tempted
to rest players or spare those who have been booked.
Centre back Philippe Mexes, right-back Mathieu Debuchy and
winger Jeremy Menez will miss out on a potential quarter-final
appearance if they pick up another yellow card on Tuesday.
Mexes is unlikely to be left out because Blanc will not want
to break up his solid partnership with Adil Rami.
Utility back Anthony Reveillere could come in for Debuchy
and Menez could be rested with Florent Malouda or Mathieu
Valbuena taking his place.
Yann M'Vila, fit after suffering an ankle sprain in the
build-up to the tournament, could return in the midfield for
Yohan Cabaye after the Newcastle United player picked up a minor
knock against Ukraine.
Sweden will be out to restore pride back home after throwing
away leads in losses to Ukraine and England.
"We will go for it. We are playing for honour," said forward
Zlatan Ibrahimovic. "We are going to bring some points home with
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