Group D: French look to end six years of group hell

Group D: French look to end six years of group hell
Kiev, June 18: France are looking to end a six year hiatus of failing to qualify for the knockout stages of a major finals here and get the result they need against already eliminated Sweden in their Euro 2012 Group D match.

The signs are positive for Laurent Blanc's side that they will both achieve their goal and extend their unbeaten run to 24 matches against what could be a demoralised Swedish side, who are pointless after two successive defeats.

The French could even lose and go through should England, who they lead on goal difference in the group with both on four points, beat co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk.

However, under Blanc's wise and steady guidance - in comparison to the chaotic and rollercoaster ride under predecessor Raymond Domenech - this is not a concept they would entertain.

They envisage victory and topping the group to set up a quarter-final against the runners-up of Group C, finishing runners-up would more than likely see them entertaining the unappetising prospect of defending champions Spain in the last eight.

Blanc, a member of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning sides though he missed the former match because he was suspended, said getting the monkey off their backs of winning their first game at a finals in six years in Friday's 2-0 win over co-hosts Ukraine would do their confidence no end of good.

"Every victory is good for confidence, both on a collective and an individual level," he said at Saturday's press conference. "We know just how hard it is to win a match at a major tournament, so the fact we played well and looked secure at the back is a good thing. It'll give us courage and a lot of confidence."


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