DONETSK: Alain Boghossian, France’s assistant manager, has compared a heated -room inquest which followed the 2-0 defeat by Sweden at Euro 2012 to a clear-the-air spat between a married couple.
Addressing a team press conference here, the former France and Parma midfielder did not deny reports in the French media about reaction in Kyiv, but insisted it was a good sign ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final against Spain.
France have never lost to Spain in six competitive meetings.
Some French commentators claimed the incidents recalled the dressing-room bust-up which rocked the French at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In France had beaten Sweden they would have gone top of Group D and gained an extra day’s rest before facing Italy rather than Spain.
Boghossian said: “I’d have been much more worried if there had been no reaction at all. We should’ve beaten Sweden and won the group, but we simply didn’t perform. That there are exchanges after such a defeat is totally normal. For me, it’s wholly positive. The air has been cleared . . . everyone is happy and getting on well.
“After everyone had had a cold shower, and some time to cool off, we sat down together at the hotel and talked things through, face-to-face. Everybody said what he felt he needed to say. That’s important. It’s like with a couple – if you don’t talk to each other things can build up.”
Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery sat out training with “minor problems”.
Spain ‘all calm’
Spain qualified for the quarter-finals after scrambling to defeat Croatia 1-0 in their concluding Group C game but substitute winger Jesús Navas, who scored the goal, has said all is peace and quiet – and confidence – ahead of the France clash.
Spain are seeking to become the first European national team to win three consecutive major titles and Sevilla winger Navas believes the pressure may have been responsible for the difficulty in beating the Croats.
He said: “I think it was due to the tension around the result of that game. We were drawing 0-0 and the result continued to stay like that, so that goal then made us calmer. There was a lot of attention on that match, which is what our team deserves, and in the end it all went well.”
Spain thus topped the group which was, Navas said, “very important in order to gain confidence.” He added: “What we need to do is just stay calm, because now the really important matches start. We have to focus fully on what’s most important.”
Spain have been unbeaten in the knockout stages of major tournaments since opponents France beat them 3-1 at the 2006 World Cup. Navas said: “A couple of years have passed since then and we’ve grown in confidence due to what we’ve achieved and we’re now very calm. We have faith in the things we do, and that’s a big plus for us.
“France have a strong team; I think they’re a very compact team. Then they have important players in attack like [Karim] Benzema, [Franck] Ribéry and [Samir] Nasri, all very dangerous in attack. We need to be very focused.”
Midfielder Xabi Alonso is set to win his 100th cap at the Donbass Arena.
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