Euro 2012: Laurent Blanc wants France to be decisive against Ukraine
• Blanc warns against repeat of sluggish start against England
• Yann M’vila expected to start after missing England game
Laurent Blanc has warned his players that better teams than England will punish France if they repeat the slow start they made against Roy Hodgson’s side on Monday. The France coach has urged his players to “relax” and play with greater confidence and more decisiveness from the outset against Ukraine at the Donbass Arena on Friday night.
Joleon Lescott’s early goal gave England the lead in Donetsk and although Samir Nasri equalised not long afterwards and France went on to dominate the game, Blanc believes that more ruthless opponents would have capitalised on his team’s sluggish opening and killed the game.
“The problem in the side is that the attacking players did not make the difference but it’s not just them,” Blanc said. “If we had played against a really good side it would have been over. They need to play with full confidence in their ability. They need to play near the opponent’s goal and not far from it. We need confident and decisive players. They need to take the initiative.
“W e’ve watched the England game several times and we could have lost the game in the first 25 minutes but we created more than they did. However, the first 25 minutes could have been fatal. The paradox is that we scored the goal and I hope we will be right at it from the start [against Ukraine].”
Although Blanc would not confirm whether he proposed to make any changes to his starting lineup, Yann M’vila, the highly rated 21-year-old who missed the England game with an ankle injury, is expected to come into side, either at the expense of Florent Malouda or Alou Diarra. France have never lost to Ukraine and the most recent of the six matches between the two nations ended in a 4-1 victory for Blanc’s side in Donetsk last year. Blanc, however, is not expecting things to be as comfortable this time.
Ukraine will be full of confidence after their 2-1 victory over Sweden on Monday and in Andriy Shevchenko, who scored both goals on a momentous night at the Olimpiysky stadium in Kiev, they possess a world-class striker that Blanc knows well from his playing days.
“I was lucky enough to play against Shevchenko and sometimes I was not happy at the end of it because he is not easy to play against,” he said. “He is no longer 20 but he is so clever with the runs that he makes and he showed that in the first game. In my opinion, he’s a great player and always in the right place at the right time. The big players perform at big tournaments and he is showing that.”Blanc believes Ukraine will be “in a state of euphoria” after the Sweden result, although he also feels that the co-hosts will be under greater pressure now that they have raised expectations. “It can be an advantage to play at home but it can be a disadvantage too,” he said. “Ukrain e have started very well and they have already played under a lot of pressure.
There will be even more pressure on the second game and sometimes pressure can hinder people. But sometimes they can rise to the occasion.” Read More