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FOOTBALL

Blanc annoyed by criticism of France’s play

France coach Laurent Blanc on Saturday expressed exasperation over criticism of his side's play following their 2-1 defeat of Albania in Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier.

Blanc annoyed by criticism of France's play

The victory sent France three points clear in Group D ahead of Tuesday’s visit to Romania and extended the team’s unbeaten run to 12 matches.  

However, the team’s play continues to attract scrutiny in the French media and Blanc appeared to lose patience while talking to journalists the day after the match in Tirana.  

When asked which players had disappointed him, Blanc replied: “That’s for you (the journalists) to say, it’s you who write the match reports.  

“I will no longer talk about players individually. I’ll talk about different areas of the game — the defence, the build-up play, the attack — but there will be no more specific comments.”  

Asked to explain why, Blanc responded simply: “Because.”  

Prompted to expand further, he said: “It creates problems where there are none. We don’t need that. There are enough things to sort out and to manage.”  

Samir Nasri has come in for particularly strong criticism in the French sports press over his recent performances for the national team.  

L’Equipe awarded him a score of 3/10 for his performance against Albania and criticised him for dropping too deep and dwelling on the ball for too long.  

In an article entitled ‘Nasri, a real concern,’ the paper asked: “Why did Nasri keep stepping on the toes of (Alou) Diarra and (Yann) M’Vila, rather than playing closer to (Karim) Benzema … ?  

“With France, Nasri has another counter-productive habit: holding on to the ball for more than necessary, as if he was desperate to prove what he’s capable of.”  

Nasri’s place in the side has come under pressure from Sochaux midfielder Marvin Martin, who scored twice on his France debut in a 4-1 win over Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine in June.  

Blanc has publicly spoken of his desire to see Nasri “do more” for France, but last week the Manchester City new boy reacted by saying he would prefer to be told of the coach’s concerns “face to face”.  

Blanc was asked why Nasri was not smiling on the pitch, and he replied:

“He’ll smile. Maybe he’s in pain somewhere, if he isn’t smiling. No, I’m joking.”  

Asked if he had been concerned by Nasri’s declaration that he had nothing to prove, Blanc said: “I didn’t hear him say that and that’s not the conversation that we had.”  

Benzema made one goal and created another for M’Vila to put France 2-0 up at half-time, but a defensive mix-up between Younes Kaboul and Eric Abidal saw Erjon Bogdani reply for the hosts in the first minute of the second period.  

Blanc refused to comment on the goal, however, and sought instead to focus on what his side had done well.  

“We won, remind me, we got three points,” he said.  

“I’d like to talk about (goalkeeper) Hugo Lloris, who was good. Yes, he was called upon. I recognise that Albania caused us problems.  

“But the analysis doesn’t always have to focus on the negatives. Were there no satisfying elements yesterday (Friday)?”

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FOOTBALL

French prosecutors demand jail term for Russian accused of leaving England football fan with brain damage

French prosecutors on Friday called for a 15-year prison sentence for one of two Russians accused of beating a British supporter during Euro 2016, an attack that left him with brain injuries.

French prosecutors demand jail term for Russian accused of leaving England football fan with brain damage
Russian fans light flares at the match against England in 2016.. Photo: AFP

One prosecutor, Christophe Raffin, asked for the “legal maximum… between 14 and 15 years” for Pavel Kossov, who is accused of throwing the first punch at 55-year-old Andrew Bache.

Bache was injured in the violence that broke out before England played Russia in the southern French port city of Marseille on June 11th, 2016.

The second Russian on trial in Aix-en-Provence, Mikhail Ivkine, stands accused of throwing a chair at the victim, with prosecutors asking for a potential suspended sentence of up to five years.

He has claimed he was defending himself.

“No, it wasn't legitimate self-defence, it was illegitimate use of force against Andrew Bache,” Raffin said of the violence.

 

Police give emergency aid to Andrew Bache following clashes in the city of Marseille. Photo: AFP

The prosecutors said the Russians were part of a group of about 150 men, many with martial arts training, who wrought havoc in Marseille.

Bache, from Portsmouth in southern England, has no memory of the events and is too frail to attend the trial.

His son Harry, who nurses his father, is representing him in court.

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