France coach Laurent Blanc has defended his tactical decisions after his side’s exit from Euro 2012 at the hands of Spain.
In a bid to stifle Spain’s potent left-wing combination of defender Jordi Alba and midfielder Andres Iniesta, Blanc named two right backs – Anthony Reveillere and Matthieu Debuchy – in his starting line-up.
However, the decision appeared flawed when Spain broke down the left in the 19th minute, allowing Alba to cross for Xabi Alonso to head home and break the deadlock.
Despite acknowledging the goal as a crucial and frustrating moment in the quarter final tie, Blanc backed his tactics.
“If you look at our team, we knew Spain’s left side was very strong,” he said.
“In Alba and Iniesta, they have two players who overlap constantly, and what’s frustrating is that we conceded a goal from that side.
“If you look at the first half, it’s the only time Alba was able to put a cross in. Even though we covered the front post, Xabi Alonso scored at the back post.
“It’s a frustrating feeling. We knew they were dangerous on that side, we changed our team to compensate, and they score from that side.”
The 46-year-old admitted the Spaniards are a better team but praised his own players’ efforts after the goal as the French strived to improve on their first half showing.
“In my belief, they are better than us,” he said. “But my regrets are about conceding in the first half. Even though they dominated the match, I think they feared us a bit, particularly in attack.
“Even at 1-0 down, our second half was much better technically. We had a few openings, even though we didn’t create any clear-cut chances.
“The big regret is the fact we let in the first goal from their first chance. In the second half, the players gave everything. Technically it was better, but it’s very hard to cause Spain problems.”
The former Bordeaux boss also said his side may have found proceedings easier against a traditional striker in Fernando Torres, rather than Cesc Fabregas being deployed as a ‘false nine’, but added it was not a complete surprise.
“We’d planned for two options, so it wasn’t a surprise,” he said.
“It’s true we were expecting Torres, but we had Fabregas, who is a very different player. Would it have been better with Torres? I don’t know.
“It might have allowed our centre-backs to focus on one player, instead of having to worry about the four men in midfield.”
Blanc claimed that if France had had a little longer to prepare for the Spanish threat, the result may have been a different one.
“We could have worked on it more if we’d had more time,” he said.
“Italy played well against them because they knew (Spain) were their first opponents and they had time to prepare. If we had more time, we could have tried something else – like three at the back, for example.”
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