Pedigree and talent not enough, says France captain
By Patrick Vignal
PARIS (Reuters) - The surprise runs of so-called minnows such as Wales and Iceland at the European soccer Championship show that pedigree and talent alone do not win football matches, France captain Hugo Lloris said on Saturday.
The experienced goalkeeper, whose team face Iceland in the quarter-finals on Sunday, said he knew even before seeing Wales beat Belgium 3-1 on Friday to advance to the last four that any side in the tournament could be dangerous.
"There have been surprises since the start of the competition and we realise that being a big nation and playing nice football is not enough to make it to the last four," he told a news conference at the Stade de France, where Sunday's intriguing battle between the host nation and Iceland will take place.
"The best teams playing the best football are no longer here today," he added.
"It shows that we're back to values such as the importance of a collective effort. It's mental strength that makes the difference and that's what we will need to qualify."
France have needed late rallies to reach the last eight and are yet to produce an entirely convincing performance but have proven a determined and combative side.
"Since the start of the tournament, we have shown certain values," Lloris said.
"Everything wasn't perfect, we lacked consistency and were not aggressive enough in the early stages of our games but in the end we managed to win matches and I believe that is because of our collective spirit."
Lloris said France would certainly not underestimate Iceland, who showed football history counted for little at this tournament with a shock 2-1 victory over England in the last 16.
"They have two or three players with high quality but what makes Iceland so strong is that they are a tight, compact unit showing plenty of solidarity," he said.
"There will be no surprises for us tomorrow (Sunday). If we go out there just telling ourselves that we're the best and have more talent, we won't go through".
(Editing by Ed Osmond)