Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blanc Wary of England Threat

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blanc Wary of England Threat

Article excerpt

Byline: Marco Giacomelli

[bar] AURENT BLANC fears England will end France's 21-match unbeaten run in their Euro 2012 opener on Monday unless his side tighten up in defence.

Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery were a class apart as Les Bleus put the finishing touches to their tournament preparations with a 4-0 home win against Estonia in Le Mans last night.

However, a shaky performance by the back-line took the gloss off the convincing victory.

After Manchester United full-back Patrice Evra produced a miserable performance in a 3-2 win against Iceland last week, it was Philippe Mexes's turn to raise concerns.

Estonia almost scored twice in the opening 15 minutes, with a poor first touch from Mexes allowing midfielder Henrik Ojamaa to shoot just wide across goal.

Ojamaa then got ahead of the centreback to meet a cross but, off balance, he volleyed wide.

France went ahead in the 25th minute, when Ribery chested down a Benzema pass to fire in, but Blanc knew his team were lucky not to already be behind and warned them they would not be so fortunate against England in Donetsk. He said: "On the positive side we wanted to see more consistency in our style of play, which we achieved.

"There were areas which were less impressive and that was in defence. What annoys me is that we created our own problems. You have to do things simply, that is the manner in which we will be more effective. We did not play in this simple fashion in defence and that got us into difficulty.

"[Against England] I am going to impress on the team that they have to be much more rigorous and tougher in defence and it is imperative they don't do anything too overly complicated. It is just not logical to get oneself into difficulty on one's own."

Benzema scored twice last night, curling a shot into the far corner of the net and then latching onto Ribery's cross to claim his 15th international goal. …

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