Sweden 2-0 France

Blanc fearful of Spain after loss

France coach unhappy after shock loss

ESPN staff

Blanc could not believe how his side crumbled© PA Photos

France coach Laurent Blanc found it hard to be optimistic for the rest of Euro 2012 after his side fell to a 2-0 defeat to Sweden and lost top spot in Group D to England.

The result meant that the French, who had impressed earlier in the tournament, will face favourites and current champions Spain in the quarter-finals on Saturday. They will also have to do it without key defender Philippe Mexes who was booked and will now miss the game through suspension.

"After the game I've seen tonight it's difficult to imagine us beating Spain. But we'll feel more optimistic tomorrow," said Blanc. "We were not strong enough in the tackles. I think Sweden played with a lot of heart, they gave everything, physically they were much better than us.

"We did not suffer up front, we suffered a great deal at the back and also in the midfield. Sweden had a lot of physical impact there. I'm going to look at the game again but I think we conceded too much space."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's stunning goal broke the deadlock and Blanc believes the AC Milan striker was key.

"We were dominated in terms of tackles, in the air, on the ground, throughout," he said. "Sweden had a lot of physical presence and we could not fight that."

Defending individuals, he added:  "I don't like to talk about individual performances, tonight everyone was not at the level we expected." But the coach's assessment was backed up by his under-performing players, who had been odds-on to finish top against an already-ousted Sweden side.

Striker Karim Benzema, who has attempted more shots without scoring than any other player, said: "If we want to do anything in this Euros, we can't play like that again. Everyone was poor individually - apart from [goalkeeper] Hugo Lloris", while midfielder Alou Diarra added: "We have no right to play like we did tonight. Maybe we were too relaxed. We'll try to find the reasons for this performance."

Sweden coach Erik Hamren claimed he was pleased his side finished with a win, despite crashing out.

"We performed badly in the first half against Ukraine, but we have been good in two games and we need to remember that the difference was that today, we had the margins with us defensively," he said. "France had some really great opportunities, like England and Ukraine, but France were not able to score with the opportunities that they had.

"We had some really good saves from our goalkeeper and some of their chances went wide of the goal; there was a header at the end which was dangerous.

"But I'm really happy about how we performed in these games and really happy that we won this game. I'm really proud of the players, but at the same time, it's a bit painful right now, it hurt. I think we're all a bit sad after this game."


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