France camp at peace, says Blanc
Head coach Laurent Blanc insists there is "no conflict" in the France squad ahead of tonight's Euro 2012 quarter-final against Spain in Donetsk.
Blanc did admit, though, that the dressing-room row among players which followed Tuesday’s 0-2 defeat by Sweden had delayed preparations for the meeting with the world and European champions.
The former Manchester United defender accepted that calm had to be restored within the group after the initial angry reaction to the setback which cost Les Bleus top spot behind England in Group D. Blanc said: “There is no conflict. There were words exchanged after the game. There was a reaction. Some players were very angry. That is true.
“Certain things were said. We acted on those. People are worked up and angry after a defeat and there were raised voices. We took a bit of time to calm everyone down and coming back to Donetsk from Kiev to our base camp allowed us to do that and be a bit more at peace. It did delay us in terms of when we could start preparing for the game with Spain but you have priorities that have to be dealt with.
“But since Wednesday everything has been about working towards the game with Spain. We haven’t had to pack our bags and go home.”
Arbeloa v Ribery
Real Madrid right-back Alvaro Arbeloa will struggle to contain Franck Ribery, who loves to cut infield onto his stronger right foot.
Pique v Benzema
Barca’s Gerard Pique is familiar with his opponent due to previous clashes in El Clasico, but it was Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema who emerged on top in 2011-12.
Iniesta v Cabaye
Andres Iniesta will be central to Spain’s hopes of beating France. Cabaye is likely to find himself in Iniesta’s vicinity when the Spaniard receives the ball.
Torres v Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny comes into the French line-up in place of the suspended Philippe Mexes, and will be marking Spanish striker Fernando Torres, in his first ever competitive match.