France midfielder Yohan Cabaye has blamed Hatem Ben Arfa’s bust-up with former national coach Laurent Blanc during Euro 2012 on pressure.
Following France’s defeat to Sweden in their final Group D match in June, a number of players – including his Newcastle team-mate Ben Arfa – were said to have had an angry exchange with Blanc.
However, Cabaye suggested his 25-year-old team-mate’s actions were not in character, and feels the stress of the situation played a part in the talented midfielder’s reactions.
“The face he showed during the Euro, it is not Hatem Ben Arfa. I knew him for a year. Maybe the competition, the desire to do well, stress, (meant) he acted like that,” he told French radio station RMC.
“You really know people when you’re with them everyday. You discover them outside of football. This is the case, we (Ben Arfa and I) often see outside.”
Cabaye said France can judge their own progress against Spain in their upcoming World Cup qualifying fixture, and insisted even a victory against the world and European champions on October 16 will not represent a success unless the French top Group Nine.
“Spain is the very best at the moment, so the motivation will come alone. Everyone wants to play games like they play,” he said.
“It will allow us to judge our team and we know we will not stop working even if we win the game. The most important thing is to finish first in the group.”