France have succeeded where Spain failed in their opening Euro 2012 match by showing it is possible to play successfully without a proper striker.
Spain raised eyebrows when they started their Group C game against Italy without forwards Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Negredo but the experiment failed as they were held to a 1-1 draw.
Torres started against Ireland in the following game and led the world champions to an emphatic 4-0 win.
France, who top Group D after two matches, have started with striker Karim Benzema but the Real Madrid forward has played in a deeper role than usual, often linking with Franck Ribery on the left flank against Ukraine and setting up both goals in a 2-0 win.
"I'm not focusing on the fact that he does not score," coach Laurent Blanc told reporters.
"He is an important player who links with the wing players. The most important thing is the movements of the players."
Benzema teed up Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye and each time he was outside the penalty area when he passed the ball to the scorer.
For the opening goal, he was just outside the box, passing the ball to his right for Menez to burst into the area and fire home.
He was positioned even deeper for the second goal, feeding Cabaye with a perfect through ball.
Menez is used to playing without a centre forward at Paris St Germain as coach Carlo Ancelotti often plays him with Javier Pastore and Nene, neither a genuine striker.
Menez also plays on the right flank for France with Ribery on the left and Benzema in a playmaking role.
Against Ukraine, his position dragged the centre backs forward, creating space for Ribery and Menez, and although Benzema has not yet scored in the tournament Blanc has been pleased with his contribution.
"At Real, he also plays in deep zones," Blanc said, adding that Benzema could score at any time.
"If we had not decided to take him off the pitch [15 minutes from time], perhaps he would have scored.
"It is not a problem and he will score in the next game."
Benzema is not worried about his lack of goals either.
"Making others score is good and it is a pleasure for me," he said.
"I like to be part of the construction, play deep. I need this."comments