at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
DONETSK, Ukraine – Coach Laurent Blanc left his future open after France's quarterfinal exit from Euro 2012 where they did not do better than achieving the minimal goal of getting through the group stage.
Les Bleus lacked flair as they were beaten for the first time in a competitive match by Spain, the world and European champions rather comfortably prevailing 2-0 on Saturday in Donetsk from Xabi Alonso's double.
While not as bad as the winless World Cup 2010 campaign amid plenty of turmoil off the pitch, the Euro campaign was far from smooth.
Blanc managed to rebuild the French team when he took over from Raymond Domenech two years ago and they came to Euro with an unbeaten streak of 21 games and were fancied to lift the trophy a third time.
A 1-1 draw with England and 2-0 victory over Ukraine seemed to confirm it but a 2-0 defeat against Sweden in a lacklustre final group game already showed that not all was well.
Samir Nasri made headlines with a gesture after scoring in the England game and there were plenty of arguments in the French dressing room at the Sweden game. Nasri was reportedly involved in those as well and finally insulted a journalist after the exit against Spain.
“There is a problem with Nasri and the media. That is very regrettable for his personal image and that of the national team,” Blanc said Sunday on French TF1 television.
French federation chief Noel le Graet left it open whether the Manchester City player faces sanctions.
“We will conduct a hearing and will see what happens,” le Great said in the same programme.
The same applies for Blanc, and it is no longer a certainty that his contract, which expires after Euro, will be extended, or, for that matter, that he would want it to be extended.
“We will take some time to analyze everything that had happened. We were going to do that anyway, now we are just doing it a few days earlier and only then can we decide,” Blanc said.
The French federation will also have to make up its mind as le Graet was certainly not happy with the campaign.
“I do not know if you can speak of a positive Euro, it was an acceptable one,” he said.
Blanc said that one of the drawbacks for the French side, was that the squad contained players from many different clubs.
“We know that great footballing nations fall back on great club sides. A few years ago we were in that situation,” Blanc said.
“Even England have a lot of Chelsea players, or from Manchester United, Spain have four or five from Real Madrid and four or five from Barcelona.
“Of course that helps. For our nation that has not been the case for a while and that will not change. If you take players from all over and if you have to work with that, it is more difficult.”
Looking at Saturday's game, Blanc said he regretted that his side conceded an early goal where they had hoped to contain the Spaniards, the left side, when Spain attacked for the first time from that side and Xabi Alonso got an unmarked header off Jordi Alba's cross.
“We wanted to close them down on the left hand side because we knew that they are very strong on that side with Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta.
“It is most frustrating, that we conceded the goal exactly there were we tried to close them down. That is very infuriating.
Blanc complemented Spain and - “we dont have to be ashamed to say that they are a better side than us” - and named the title favourites along with Germany.
“But the two teams that have shown how powerful they are, are Germany and Spain and it is not surprising that they are considered the great favourites. They have both been very impressive,” Blanc said. – Sapa-dpa