France focusing on Sweden not mathematics

France could reach the Euro 2012 quarter-finals even if they lose their last Group D match against already eliminated Sweden on Tuesday but manager Laurent Blanc is not leaving anything to chance.

The only way France can fail to progress is if they lose to the Swedes, Ukraine beat England and the French end up with a worse goal difference than their old rivals. That scenario, though, is not one Blanc has spent much time considering.

"We will respect the Swedish team even if they have already been put out because it is always difficult to play against them and we will prepare to win it - we won't be thinking about the mathematical consequences," Blanc told reporters on Saturday.

His France side were impressive in their opening 1-1 draw against England and Friday's 2-0 win over Ukraine. Those results have left the French top of the group ahead of England on four points, Ukraine three and Sweden none.

During the win over the co-hosts France almost literally soaked up everything thrown at them in the Donbass Arena, which was more than just the pressure Oleg Blokhin's Ukraine team put them under in the first half.

A massive lightning storm caused the match to be stopped for almost an hour shortly after it began, but when it did restart, it was the French that coped the better with the conditions and were the deserved winners thanks to two goals in three minutes from Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye early in the second half.

Blanc, who has consistently played down France's chances of becoming European champions for the third time after their triumphs of 1984 and 2000, said he allowed himself a beer - and the players a Coke - to celebrate Friday's win.

But he added that he was not underestimating the Swedes, even though they would just be playing for pride alone.

NEXT GOAL

"I drank a good fresh beer last night," he told reporters at his daily press briefing at Donetsk's Chamber of Commerce building.

"We know that we only won one game yesterday and we are happy that we won but we must not lose sight of our goals, but the next goal is in front of us with the next game."

Friday's result meant France ended a run of eight matches without a win in tournament play stretching back to the 2006 World cup semi-final and extended their unbeaten run to 23 games.

But Blanc thought at one stage the match would not be completed after referee Bjorn Kuipers called the players off after five minutes because of the thunder and lightning.

"I wasn't afraid of the weather, of course, but rather I was more concerned the game could be called off. I thought with that amount of water on the pitch it would no longer be playable and the game could not restart," he said.

"I was surprised the pitch had been cleared of water in an hour and brought up to standard and in the end we saw a great game after all."

The changes Blanc made to his team - bringing in the quicker Menez for Malouda and replacing Patrice Evra with Gael Clichy at the back - contributed to an encouraging performance by France, who look set to take their place in the quarter-finals.


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