France go from outsiders to Euro contenders

A 2-1 away win against Germany on Wednesday moved France from outsiders to the ranks of favourites for the European Championship finals as Les Bleus extended their unbeaten run to 18 matches.

"France will be among the Euro favourites, just like Spain and Germany," said Germany coach Joachim Low after watching his team lose in the Bremen friendly.

France looked impressive in counter attacks, with full-back Mathieu Debuchy and winger Mathieu Valbuena proving a strong threat throughout.

Lille's Debuchy set up Olivier Giroud's and Florent Malouda's goals as the visitors, who for once were playing a team wanting to do more than sit back and wait, surprisingly outplayed three-times European champions Germany.

Coach Laurent Blanc, who took over in 2010 after France were knocked out of the first round of the World Cup following off-pitch dramas, said the game had been an important test for his team.

"These are friendlies, of course, but England, Brazil or Germany are prestigious opponents," said Blanc, referring to France's victories over England in 2010 and Brazil last year.

"We showed that we were able to compete with one of the best teams in Europe," said midfielder Yohan Cabaye.

"This kind of victory will help us prepare for the Euro finals peacefully," added centre-back Philippe Mexes.

Captain Hugo Lloris, however, warned against complacency.

"This victory is important for our self-confidence but let's not get carried way," the Olympique Lyon keeper said.

France will play England, Ukraine and Sweden at the Euro finals in Poland and Ukraine, which start on June 8, and Blanc said that some players had made an important step towards getting a call-up for the trip.

"We will also monitor the players' performances with their clubs but those who were here tonight have scored points," he said.

Debuchy was undoubtedly one of the candidates for the right-back position, where he will be in competition with Bacary Sagna and Anthony Reveillere.

Giroud, the Ligue 1 top scorer, also shone at the Weser Stadium and he could well be the third striker for the Euro finals along with Loic Remy and Karim Benzema, who both missed Wednesday's game through injury.


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