DONETSK, Ukraine – Laurent Blanc says he will “definitely” make changes to France's starting line-up as they bid to contain the all-conquering Spain in their Euro 2012 quarterfinal on Saturday.
Having seeing his team's 23-game unbeaten run ended by Sweden on Tuesday, Blanc believes it would be foolish for France to go toe-to-toe with the world and European champions.
The France coach could decide to bolster his midfield in a bid to counteract Spain's notorious passing routine, while French sport newspaper L'Equipe has speculated that Samir Nasri could lose his place to Jeremy Menez.
Blanc will already be without the suspended Philippe Mexes and when he was asked if he would make further changes, he replied:
He added: “I often say that you should adapt as little as possible to your opponents and play your own game, but we're up against a very strong team with a well-established style of play.
“They have players who are used to playing together for their clubs. Spain's level of play is much higher than ours, so we'll definitely have to adapt to their play.
“But that doesn't mean we'll abandon our own strengths. We'll have a team that can do both.”
Blanc is particularly concerned by the fact that his players will probably have to spend long periods of the game without the ball.
“When do you adapt to a team? When they have the ball,” he explained.
“The problem with Spain is that they average 65 to 70 percent of possession. So you're left with a third of possession. But for 70
percent of the game, you have to adapt to Spain because they have the ball and you don't.
“You could go for it and play with four forwards, but the problem is that your wingers would spend the game playing next to their own corner flags.”
Having already witnessed his players produce a sluggish start in the 1-1 draw with England in their opening game, Blanc says his side must be switched on from kick-off.
“If you defend well and you're compact, you have a chance,” he said.
“If you show that you're in the game in the first 15 to 20
minutes, you'll have a chance, but if you don't fulfil those criteria, you risk getting punished.”
Flanked by captain Hugo Lloris, Blanc willingly answered questions on a wide range of topics during the 30-minute pre-match press conference at Donetsk's Donbass Arena.
In particular, he was asked about the aftermath of the changing-room row that reportedly broke out between the players after the loss to Sweden, and he was eager to assert that the damage had been repaired.
“You need time to calm things down, and it takes up your time, but that's a coach's job,” said Blanc, who took over from Raymond Domenech in the aftermath of the training-ground strike that derailed France's 2010 World Cup campaign.
“If there's tension in the changing room, it makes you worried that we're going to go back to what happened before.
“It's not nice to hear, so you have to try to calm everyone down. You either have a late meeting after the match or the day after, so you can find a collective solution.
“Even though there was a bit of tension after the match in Kiev, the paradox is that we're in the quarter-finals at a Euro.
“You're disappointed by the defeat and you react in the heat of the moment, and you have to address that, but you also have to say: 'Boys, despite all that, we have a hugely important match against Spain to prepare for.'“
He added: “I'm not thinking about what I'll say to motivate them. I have nothing to say to motivate them.
“They're playing against the best team in the world. In each position, Spain have two or three of the best players in Europe. If the players aren't motivated by a match like that, I don't understand.” – Sapa-AFP