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France coach Blanc hopes win can spur team
 

Blanc happy with the win over Bosnia

France coach Laurent Blanc hopes the 2-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina in a European Championship qualifier will prove a turning point for the heavily criticized team and help speed up the rebuilding process.

France was under severe pressure after a stunning 1-0 loss to Belarus last week that followed its disastrous World Cup campaign, but bounced back Tuesday with goals from Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema and Chelsea winger Florent Malouda.

"It can give some confidence to players who really need it," Blanc said Wednesday. "It doesn't mean that we have more certainties. We still lack experience.

"But it's with such results on the road that we are going to gain time (in rebuilding the team.) It could be the start of something good."

Albania tops Group D with four points. France is in third place with three, level on points with Bosnia.

Blanc said a new midfield formation helped stabilize the French team, after switching from a 4-4-2 system with two defensive midfielders against Belarus to a 4-3-3 formation with three ball winners who gave more protection to the defense.

"If you lose the midfield battle, chances are that you will lose the match too," Blanc said. "We can certainly play with a pair of forwards, but against solid teams we have to win the midfield battle and must therefore add muscle and density in midfield."

France played the two qualifiers with an under-strength team as it was hit by suspensions and injuries. Several players from the World Cup squad — including Nicolas Anelka, Patrice Evra, Franck Ribery and Jeremy Toulalan — were dropped for the games because of their role in a walkout during a training session in South Africa, and Blanc made it clear he won't tolerate any disobedience.

"The criteria for call-ups are still individual skills, but players have to be aware that it won't be enough," Blanc said. "You have to display a (positive) mindset and fit in the mold. ... In a football team, nobody can do whatever he wants."

Blanc insisted on "putting individual talent at the service of the team," praising the "excellent ambiance" within the squad throughout the two qualifiers.

"The squad gave me satisfaction by its involvement and its behavior in the two matches. They deserve to be seen again."

France snapped a four-match losing streak with the victory in Sarajevo. It will next face Romania and Luxembourg in October.



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