Category: World Sports Created on Monday, 04 June 2012 15:19 Published Date Written by GNA Hits: 329
LONDON, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Though Laurent Blanc insisted that France had no longer been a football giant in the world especially after the team's humiliating failure and turmoil in South Africa, the two-time European champion has gradually turned on a new page under the rebuilding job of the "thinker" in the past two years.
The player strike and early group exit in 2010 World Cup no doubt hurt French football and put the "Les Bleus" to the bottom in history.
Blanc took over from Raymond Domenech and then started his project to lead his side back on track.
Though losing his first Euro qualifier in charge, Blanc coached France to an 18-game unbeaten run including latest win over Germany, which instilled the winning mentality and confidence to the brand new squad.
Drawn in the Group D with England, Sweden and the co-host Ukraine, Blanc's side is the favourite to qualify for the last eight based on its steady progress and glorious history when France lifted the European Championship trophy in 1984 and 2000.
According to the provisional squad, Blanc brought in many new faces to his side after two year experiments.
Following the world's football trend, France is apt to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Their goal-keeper Hugo Lloris from Lyon is the first-choice captain of the national team with his mature qualities in decision-making and one-on-one composure.
In the central defence, Adil Rami from Valencia and AC Milan's veteran Philippe Mexes have been the familiar pair. Patrice Evra of Manchester United, Gael Clichy of Man City and Mathieu Debuchy of Lille all proved themselves as experienced full-backs in this season.
Yann M'Vila, the holding midfielder of Rennes, is also the mainstay for France with eight appearances in the qualifying round. While Yohan Cabaye from the Newcastle impressed fans with his steady performance in Premier League. The duo are expected to cover the back four and link the frontline in the fierce midfield battle.
Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery and Florent Malouda along with the lone centre-forward Karim Benzema are tipped as the sharp combination to unsettle the opponent's defences. Besides, Loic Remy from Marseille could also play as winger or forward for Blanc's tactical choices. But the talent has been forced to withdraw from the final 23-man squad due to a thigh injury.
However, one problem arises from the team's fragility in South Africal is who can be the spiritual leader for France especially when they are in the disadvantageous position.
After the classic number 10 Zinedine Zidane's international retirement in 2006, the Les Bleurs has not found a new skipper who can inspire his teammates in the 90 minutes.
Probable starting 11: Lloris (c); Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Evra; M'Vila, Cabaye; Malouda, Ribery, Nasri; Benzema.
Following is France's 23-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille), Cedric Carrasso (Girondins Bordeaux)
Defenders: Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Philippe Mexes (AC Milan), Adil Rami (Valencia), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Anthony Reveillere (Olympique Lyon
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Alou Diarra (Olympique Marseille), Yann M'vila (Stade Rennes), Marvin Martin (Sochaux), Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain)
Forwards: Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Jeremy Menez (Paris St Germain), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille).
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