Euro 2012: France coach Laurent Blanc admits team had heated row after shock Sweden defeat
LAURENT Blanc, the France coach, has admitted that there was a "heated" dressing-room row between his players following their limp 2-0 defeat against Sweden in Kiev on Tuesday.
Olivier Giroud, who will join Arsenal after Euro 2012, was quoted describing a “shouting match” immediately after the game and, during a press conference in Donetsk on Wednesday, Blanc made no attempt to dispute that version of events.
France’s 2010 World Cup campaign famously ended in disgrace amid deep internal splits and, while Blanc played down the significance of Monday’s incident, it is threatening to overshadow preparations for Saturday’s quarter-final against Spain.
“When there’s a victory, you accept things more and you’re happier,” said Blanc. "When you’ve lost, you’re more hot-blooded. It got heated but we all cooled down after a good shower.
“It kicked off a bit because all the players felt that everyone hadn’t given everything. To win matches, you have to play them and play them well.
“I don’t know if it’s because we’ve got a fairly young squad. When you feel something, you have to say it, and it’s not just down to the technical staff. They have to say things between each other, because it can be constructive. It shows that there’s a reaction, and a bit of electricity. I hope that there will be some against Spain, but in the right sense.”
Florent Malouda described France’s performance as “shocking” but, after a 23-game unbeaten run, there is still a belief that they can upset Spain, the reigning world and European champions.
“I don’t think Spain are favourites for the tournament, the Germans have impressed me the most,” said Samir Nasri, the France midfielder. “Spain and Italy are both hard to play against, and in my opinion the Italians are harder to play against as they line up with five defenders and three defensive midfielders who push up.
“Spain like to play football, but France has always done well against the Spanish in a major tournament. We might get more room against the Spanish.”
Yohan Cabaye, however, questioned France’s attitude against Sweden and stressed that there would need to be a drastic improvement against Spain. “We have always played as a team which is why we went 23 games unbeaten, but we didn’t against Sweden,” he said.
“It was a mistake. Our mentality wasn’t right. I hope we learn. We do the right things from now on and we play like a team. I don’t know why we were so bad.
“Spain are the best team in the world so we are going to have to play like it is the final. If we play like we did against Sweden we haven’t got any chance of beating them.”