Touted as possible Euro 2012
winners after their slick 2-0 win over co-hosts Ukraine, France
were guilty of slacking off before their dismal loss to Sweden,
manager Laurent Blanc said on Wednesday.
Speaking ahead of France's quarter-final against Spain in
Donetsk on Saturday, Blanc was not impressed with the mood among
his players the day before they lost 2-0 in their final Group D
clash in Kiev, a "horrible evening" in the ex-defender's words.
"We felt there was a bit of slacking off in training. Today,
having taken stock, the reaction is generally good. This was not
the case two days ago," Blanc told reporters.
"Yesterday was a horrible evening. For the players, for the
staff, for the people who watched us. We didn't do enough to
"We wanted to win the match for two reasons, to qualify and
to finish first in our group. We achieved the first objective
but not the second."
England topped the group and now face Italy.
Far from fearing France's next opponents, world and European
champions Spain, Blanc preferred to speak of his admiration for
Vicente del Bosque's free-flowing keep-ball specialists and had
some words of advice for his troops.
"We have to mentally accept to run, to run a lot, to run
enormous amounts to fill the holes. And when we regain the ball,
we'll need speed and depth. That's the equation," he said.
Key to French hopes could be lively winger Franck Ribery,
who limped out of training early on Wednesday with a burst
blister but a team spokesman said he should be fit.
Blanc will undoubtedly mull changes to his starting 11 after
such a woeful display against already eliminated Sweden but one
new face is certain, centre-back Laurent Koscielny will replace
the suspended Philippe Mexes.
"Many players dream of playing their first match in the
European Championship against the title holders. We have nothing
to lose and it could be an unforgettable match," an unfazed
Koscielny told reporters.
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