PARIS (AFP) –
France coach Laurent Blanc has called for more consistency in his side’s play ahead of their final Euro 2012 warm-up game against Estonia in Le Mans on Tuesday.
France produced some thrilling football in the first half of their 2-0 defeat of Serbia last Thursday before their level dipped and Blanc wants to see a more complete performance against the Estonians.
“The match will serve to help the team and the players pick up speed but also to keep them fresh because we’ll need all our weapons (for the opening game against England) on June 11,” he said on Monday.
“We need to win this match and be more consistent in our play. Against Serbia, we were only consistent for 60 minutes. I hope we’ll do it for even longer and that we won’t have any physical problems.”
Yann M’Vila succumbed to an ankle injury in the early stages of the Serbia win, which means that Alou Diarra is in line to take his place for both the Estonia friendly and Euro 2012 opener against England.
The 30-year-old endured a disappointing debut season with Marseille but Blanc, who worked with Diarra at Bordeaux, says he has the necessary experience to occupy the key midfield position in front of the French defence.
“He’s a born competitor,” said Blanc.
“I know where I’m going with him. You can’t ask him to do certain things but what he knows how to do, he does very well. He’s had an average season but he’s always there when we need him.
“I appreciate the man, the player; we know him and we know that in matches at the very, very top level, in terms of power in the tackle, we need lads like that.
“He has an important role in the squad. He’s not very talkative but he’s respected by the players.”
Blanc is expected to name his first-choice starting line-up against Estonia, with skipper Hugo Lloris in goal behind a back four of Mathieu Debuchy, Adil Rami, Phillipe Mexes and Patrice Evra.
Diarra will be flanked in midfield by Yohan Cabaye and Florent Malouda, behind a three-pronged front line of Samir Nasri, Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery.
Although both M’Vila and fellow midfielder Blaise Matuidi are expected to miss the England game, Blanc’s selection problems pale in comparison to those dogging his English counterpart, Roy Hodgson.
“We’re paying attention to it,” admitted Blanc.
“We’ve watched England. We know their system, their players less so, but what interests me and motivates me is the France team.”