Time for Gourcuff to shine for France

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PARIS - A seemingly easy game against Luxembourg could provide Yoann Gourcuff with the perfect opportunity to at last stand out as France's playmaker in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign on Tuesday.

The Olympique Lyon midfielder came off the bench to give Les Bleus their second goal in a 2-0 win against Romania at the Stade de France in his first international since he being sent off against hosts South Africa at the World Cup.

"This lad is among those who were more damaged than others by the World Cup," coach Laurent Blanc, who made Gourcuff Girondins Bordeaux's undisputable playmaker when he was at the Ligue 1 side, told reporters on Sunday.

"He is rebuilding himself."

Gourcuff's delicate turns and skill could prove lethal against a Luxembourg side that are expected to sit back and play for a draw.

The shy Gourcuff, who left South Africa in low spirits after failing to make his mark, was all smiles on Saturday, wildly celebrating his goal after being set up by St Etienne striker Dimitri Payet in stoppage time as France moved top of Group D with six points from three games.

"He is on his way back (to top form)," said Blanc, who hinted Gourcuff could start at Metz's St Symphorien stadium.

"It is very likely that several players who were not playing (against Romania) will start (on Tuesday)."

Gourcuff could be lined-up in his favourite playmaker position, forcing Samir Nasri to the right - a spot he is used to at Arsenal, or the bench.

Blanc could also field Arsenal defensive midfielder Abou Diaby, who missed the Romania game with an ankle injury.

Diaby's pace would be a strong weapon as France will probably need to pierce through a double defensive shield against Luxembourg.

"He is a strong candidate for Tuesday," said Blanc, who explained he was extremely satisfied with his squad's behaviour.

"I have a squad of players who are all able to play. It's quite an exhilarating feeling for a coach."

Probable teams:

France: 1-Hugo Lloris; 2-Anthony Reveillere, 4-Adil Rami, 5-Philippe Mexes, 22-Gael Clichy; 19-Abou Diaby, 18-Alou Diarra, 8-Yoann Gourcuff, 11-Samir Nasri, 15-Florent Malouda; 10-Karim Benzema

Luxembourg: 1-Jonathan Joubert; 2-Kim Kintziger, 3-Guy Blaise, 4-Eric Hoffmann, 5-Tom Schnell, 6-Rene Peters, 7-Tom Laterza, 8-Gilles Bettmer, 10-Ben Payal, 11-Charles Leweck, 17-Aurelien Joachim.