France v Sweden – Match Preview

French manager Laurent BlancFrance boss Laurent Blanc has warned his players not to undervalue the threat Sweden can pose in their final Group D fixture of Euro 2012 and secure passage to the knock-out stage.

Les Bleus are currently in pole position to finish top of their section after beating co-hosts Ukraine 2-0 on Friday and know a draw in Kiev will be enough to see them through to the last eight.

Blanc is aware that qualification is far from guaranteed and is concerned that his team will lose their focus ahead of the meeting with the already eliminated Swedes.

“There is always fear you might take your eye off the ball so it is up to us to be very serious in the way we prepare for the game,” he said.

“We need to be aware of what we need to achieve. We were very happy after the Ukraine game and rightly so.

“We are playing against a side who have not qualified but they will still go out to win the game. We mustn’t underestimate Sweden.”

Sweden coach Erik Hamren admits his side have performed below their usual standards and with nothing to lose he wants to see a passionate display from his players as they prepare to depart Poland and Ukraine.

“We don’t have anything to lose and can go out there and perform,”

“Every game is important when you talk about the national team. If we are going to improve we need to play seriously every time.

“The players are frustrated because we haven’t got the results we wanted. I feel myself, and I can see this in the players, a motivation to be better.”

Team News 

Yohan Cabaye has a slight knock and could sit out giving Yann M’Vila a chance to stake a claim in the France midfield whilst Jeremy Menez and Gael Clichy should keep their players in the starting XI.

Johan Elmander will be replaced by either Markus Rosenberg or Ola Toivonen in attack with Erik Hamren having all 23-members of his squad available for selection.

Key Players

Yohan Cabaye

Another fine display from Cabaye saw him notch his first France goal in the win over Ukraine and further enhance his reputation as one of Europe’s top midfielders. The Newcastle man has it all in his locker and his vision and tenacity in the engine room will be key to Les Bleus going further in the finals.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

It’s been frustrating competition for the AC Milan forward who’s fine individual performances haven’t been matched by his Sweden teammates. Ibrahimovic was a constant thorn in England’s side on Friday and will keen to end the Euro’s on a high and thwart France’s hopes of progression to the last eight.

Prediction: 3-1


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