DONETSK, Ukraine (AFP)
France coach Laurent Blanc admitted on Wednesday that angry words
were exchanged by his players after their loss to Sweden at Euro
2012, but played down the significance of the incident.
France fell 2-0 to Sweden in their final Group D match in Kiev,
bringing an end to their proud 23-game unbeaten run and sending
them into a quarter-final with holders and reigning world
champions Spain on Saturday.
Striker Olivier Giroud told reporters after Tuesday's loss to the
Swedes that there had been "a shouting match" in the French
changing room and Blanc did not dispute his version of events.
"When there's a victory, you accept things more and you're
happier," he told journalists at a press conference in Donetsk.
"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."
A booking for Philippe Mexes against Sweden means that he will
miss the match against Spain in Kiev, with Arsenal centre-back
Laurent Koscielny expected to deputise at the heart of the French
Koscielny was also asked about the flare-up in the French
changing room and he said the players had already put it behind
"We said things to each other in the changing room, but what's
said is said and we'll keep it in the group," he said.
"It was a complicated match, but the most important thing was
qualification (for the quarter-finals). We would have preferred
to qualify with a win, but these things happen.
"We have to turn the page. I think everyone's moved on now and we
have to remain united, as we have been since the start of the
France could not ask for a more taxing last-eight assignment,
with Spain boasting both the most prolific attack (six goals
scored) and the meanest defence (one goal conceded) in the group
Despite having witnessed France's long unbeaten run reach a sorry
end, Florent Malouda said there was no time for self-pity.
"It wasn't the end of the run that was shocking, it was the way
the run ended," said the Chelsea midfielder.
"We didn't look like the same team last night. You look back to
South Africa two years ago (at the World Cup), the work we've
done to get here, getting through to the quarter-finals...
"The way we gave everything up and played like a normal team who
had come to play for fun in a tournament -- that's what was
"But it's better to end the run last night and then start a new
one, and maybe win the competition."
France have also been drawn in the same group as Spain in
qualifying for the 2014 World Cup and Malouda said Saturday's
game therefore presents them with a double-pronged opportunity.
"We've done very well in our friendly games, against Germany,
England and Brazil," he said.
"And we're in Spain's World Cup group. It's a good chance to show
our ambitions. Spain are the model right now and we have to get
as close to their level as possible."