Blanc clears the air after France 'row'

 

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The Independent Football

Laurent Blanc, the France coach, has been forced to play down reports of a dressing-room row in the aftermath of his team's 2-0 defeat to Sweden on Tuesday.

Blanc was furious with the result in Kiev, which meant Les Bleus failed to top Group D and now face the defending champions Spain in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

He admitted that things "had kicked off a bit" between his players. Hatem Ben Arfa allegedly threatened to quit the squad after being criticised for using his phone during the post-match team talk, while Samir Nasri has been accused in the French media of isolating himself.

Blanc said: "There were some changes in the mood of players after the last match. We did not play very well. It is quite normal to have emotional discussions after a game. If they lose matches, it is good that happens to help improve their game going ahead."

Blanc is determined not to see a repeat of the personality clashes which ruined France's World Cup campaign two years ago and he has been impressed with the attitude of the squad since the fall-out.

"During the training since the Sweden game we have given a lot of attention to our last match and how we can improve our game," he said.

"They are together, they laugh together, but they don't want to repeat the performance against Sweden when they face Spain."

Midfielder Florent Malouda urged his team-mates to remain united – a comment thought to be aimed at Nasri. Malouda said: "If you want to be a hero, you move away from the group. If you tell yourself Euro is your chance to shine individually, it can spread within the squad and it can make the whole thing derail."

 

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