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Blanc plays down dressing room bust-up

SoccerNews in European Championships 22 Jun 2012

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France coach Laurent Blanc insists the furious bust-up that followed his side’s shock defeat against Sweden has not destabilised his team.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Euro 2012 quarter-final against Spain, Blanc has quelled the potential for a full-scale revolt.

Defeat against the Swedes saw Les Bleus surrender a 23-game unbeaten run, squander the opportunity to top Group D and fail to avoid facing the reigning European champions in Donetsk.

The frustration felt at passing up such a golden opportunity culminated in a row, understood to have involved Alou Diarra and Samir Nasri, but Blanc said the situation has now been dealt with and should be consigned to history.

“There is no conflict. There were some words exchanged and there was a reaction. After the defeat people were very angry and I came in late to the situation because of my media commitments,” he said.

“We tried to calm things down quickly and make sure we did not switch off from the Euros. The paradox is that we have qualified for the quarter-finals. The tension lasted a bit of time but we acted upon this. Life goes on and the squad is functioning well.

“In our changing rooms there are different characters and personalities. After defeat it is normal that there is disappointment and a reaction to that.

“Our aim was that this reaction lasted as little time as possible. We let off steam, and we managed it well. Everyone is calm and focused on the game which is the most important thing.”

Talk of unrest in the camp has sparked fears in France that a tournament that begun in such impressive style could end in a similar manner to the disastrous World Cup campaign back in 2010, where a coup led by senior players, including Nicolas Anelka and Patrice Evra, resulted in lengthy suspensions and the downfall of coach Raymond Domenech.

Blanc admitted it was natural for comparisons between the two situations to be drawn, but emphasised the need for his players to understand they still have the opportunity to win this tournament, despite their failure to perform against Sweden.

“We have a lot of difficulties in my opinion and we know as coaches our role is not easy. We know we are building and there are a lot of players who still have demons. Everyone recalls what happened at the 2010 World Cup. After two or three raised voices people worry this will happen again,” he said.

“Anger and reactions are not always good to hear so we need to calm everyone down in a meeting the day after. But in spite of the poor performance we have an exciting game coming up so we need to focus quickly on that.

“You have to take a step back and see we are in the quarter-finals and we are not preparing our bags.

“I don’t need to think about what I will say to motivate the players in terms of this game. They will be playing against the best team in the world with two or three of the best players of the world in every single position.

“If players aren’t motivated to play against these types of the players then they won’t have understood what it is all about. I’m not concerned about motivation.”

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