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Kallstrom questions French leadership

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 7 Jun 2012

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Sweden midfielder Kim Kallstrom has taken a swipe at Group D Euro 2012 opponents France as he believes they do not have a natural leader.

Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was selected as the team captain for the European Championship and his team-mate at the Stade Gerland Kallstrom thinks his appointment suggests a lack of leadership in Les Bleus camp ahead of the tournament.

“They must have chosen him due to the lack of a better captain,” the Sweden ace told reporters.

“They don’t have an obvious choice for that role, so instead they have chosen Lloris as he has been part of the squad for a while and he has been fairly level in his performances. But he is certainly not a leader. He is not going to be the one that starts shouting in the dressing room. He is a calm guy.

“(However) perhaps he has a different personality when he plays for France than when he plays for Lyon, who knows?”

Les Bleus face the Swedes in their final Group D game on June 19 and the left-footed playmaker is convinced that Laurent Blanc’s side will underestimate their Scandinavian opponents.

“No question they will underestimate us,” he said. “They don’t know what is coming. Perhaps they don’t underestimate us as a team, but they still think they can have us for lunch.”

The Swedish star believes their Gallic counterparts have a squad full of talented individuals, but thinks France have lost the aura they had in their pomp when they won the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.

“They are not as frightening as they used to be,” Kallstrom said.

“They don’t have the same experience. Just look at Yann M’Vila. He is a great player, but you know he is no Didier Deschamps or Emanuel Petit, who used to cover that position.

“Some of their key players, who have been struggling before, seem to be back in fine form, like (Franck) Ribery or (Karim) Benzema, but when you are talking about central defence or midfield they are still looking to find the right formation.

“However, if anybody can make the team work, it is Laurent Blanc.”

Many are tipping Erik Hamren’s Swedes as potential dark horses, while France enter Euro 2012 after a shambolic World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

Kallstrom believes his country remain firm underdogs, however, and says there is no danger of his side underestimating Les Bleus.

“That won’t happen. Never! Of course we saw during the World Cup how everything can come to pieces for them. But let us not forget that they are undefeated in more than 20 matches and that should say it all. Of course they are favourites,” he said.

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