Today at Euro 2012: Ukraine v France

 

Ukraine v France

For all France's attacking prowess the Ukraine coach, Oleg Blokhin, is more impressed with their new-found discipline at the back.

"I learnt a lot of new things about England and France," Blokhin said of Monday's match in Donetsk. "I saw both teams with eight players at the back in the defence. I think this has improved their discipline."

Blokhin noted that French players were "walking slowly" against England, hinting that he may instruct his players to start at a high tempo.

The France right-back Mathieu Debuchy said it had been difficult to cope with the heat and humidity: "At pitch level, the air doesn't circulate, so it's not easy. But we're getting used to it. We train in these conditions and we're adapting well."

Laurent Blanc said his team were full of confidence. "I heard the Ukraine coach said he did not fear France. He can rest assured, we do not fear Ukraine either, even if we respect them," he said.

Both coaches have fully-fit squads. France are expected to reinstate Yann M'Vila for Alou Diarra; Andrei Shevchenko could be rested by Ukraine.

Blanc said: "M'Vila is an important player in our system. Maybe the rest he had gave him a bit of freshness and all these parameters will be taken into account."

Player to watch: Mathieu Debuchy, France

Had Bacary Sagna been English, the angst at his broken leg would have overwhelming. To lose a full-back at the peak of his game, with 32 caps, years of Champions League experience and one tournament behind him was quite a blow. But the French could respond with a stereotypical shrug: in reserve they had Mathieu Debuchy.

Watching Debuchy rampage up the right flank against England on Monday, it felt implausible that he was initially going to be second choice. He was comfortably the best player in Donetsk.

Debuchy was against Ashley Cole, Europe's most consistent elite full-back for the last decade, but got the better of him. His pace, his bravery in getting down to the byline, his understanding of when the ball was going to be played in front of him, made Debuchy a direct attacking threat who succeeded in discomfiting Cole, for all his years and medals.

It was a vital service in a team which can lack width. Samir Nasri is no winger while Franck Ribry spends much of his time inside. But his work was also defensive, shackling not just Cole but also Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Quite a performance, and one we might be seeing more of next season. Debuchy, who turns 27 next month, has been at Lille for eight years. Newcastle United have been trying to buy him. From Danny Simpson he would be an upgrade. He is not, in truth, a Europa League footballer. But neither is his old Lille team-mate Yohan Cabaye, and he is the latest Tyneside hero. If Debuchy could join him, so much the better.

Suggested Topics
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
His band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering