PARIS - With World Cup rebels Patrice
Evra and Franck Ribery back, France go to Luxembourg for a Euro
2012 qualifier on Friday hoping memories of their South Africa
debacle are finally forgotten thanks to more on-field success.
World Cup captain Evra and midfielder Ribery were banned for
five and three matches respectively for their role in last
year's fiasco where France players went on strike to support
Nicolas Anelka, who had insulted then coach Raymond Domenech.
Coach Laurent Blanc decided to turn the page when he named
his squad to face Luxembourg and Croatia in a
friendly four days later by recalling the two 'enfants
"They had a certain status in the France team because of
their experience. They need humility to return to the group with
the same status as everyone else. [If not] I will be
uncompromising and will not hesitate to take radical action,"
said Blanc, who had overlooked Evra for last month's friendly
win over Brazil despite the left back's ban ending.
Evra is not expected to regain the captaincy that eventually
went to Girondins Bordeaux holding midfielder Alou Diarra and
fit-again Ribery, who apologised for his mistakes on Monday,
will certainly not take the armband.
"I have been very clear with him. State of mind will also be
a criteria for selection. He must be irreproachable like the
others," Blanc said of Ribery.
Both players make their return to a squad which have found
their stride in Euro 2012 qualifying Group D. They top the
standings with nine points from four games, while Luxembourg
have a point but have yet to score a goal.
Evra could start Friday's game as usual left-back Eric
Abidal has been ruled out following surgery on a liver tumour,
while Ribery will be battling it out for a place on the flanks.
Jeremy Menez is a natural candidate on the right as well as
Samir Nasri, while Florent Malouda has been a regular on the
Blanc said he would make himself available to Evra and
Ribery should they want to discuss "the new way of life within
Playmaker Yoann Gourcuff, who reports said had a difficult
relationship with Ribery at the World Cup, did not comment on
the Bayern Munich player's return but others did.
"They earned it (their place in the squad)," said Diarra.
Right back Bacary Sagna added: "They are human beings like
everyone else. They behave like everybody else."
Captain Diarra is hoping Ribery and Gourcuff will sort out
their differences so the squad can move forward.
"For the sake of the France team they will have to settle
this," he said.
Les Bleus must remember they have to play some football on
Friday albeit against a lesser nation.
"We're not living in a perfect world. If people do not get
along well or do not spend their holidays together, I do not
mind," said Blanc.
"But we have to aim at the same target: Euro 2012."
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