Laurent Blanc has already started the French mind games ahead of les Bleus’ showdown with defending champions Spain on Saturday night by attempting to shift the focus on his team away from the recent and well-publicised dressing room bust-up following their last Group D match with Sweden.
Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud claims that a shouting match ensued between certain members of the team and Blanc did little to dismiss those claims. The French coach is now revelling in his sides’ role as underdogs and has made no secret of his disappointment that finishing in second place has drawn them against the current World champions.
"You know, when you're used to getting good results and then you get a bad result, it's understandable that there's a bit of frustration, a bit of tension. On Tuesday we were all disappointed, the players and the coaching staff.
"We were expecting a tough game, but that tough? No. Sweden played with heart. Physically, they were very well prepared and they had a player up front capable of making the difference.
“It was very frustrating. Take the Mexes yellow card for example, it shows that we weren't cam and in control out there. It's a reflection of the whole team and the whole game where we just never found the right rhythm.
“I will admit that it's hard to imagine us upsetting Spain after a performance like that.”
Although skirting the issue of the rumoured squad disharmony to an extent, Blanc has acknowledged that the side have again come close to self-destruction. He insists however that there will be no repeat of the 2010 World Cup fiasco.
"We took a bit of time to calm everyone down and coming back to Donetsk from Kiev to our base camp allowed us to do that and be a bit more at peace.
"It did delay us in terms of when we could start preparing for the game with Spain but you have priorities that have to be dealt with.
"But, since Wednesday, everything has been about working towards the game with Spain.
Assistant manager Alain Boghossian has also denied rumours of a rift and insists that a late night meeting in the wake of the Sweden defeat, orchestrated by Blanc, has saved the squad and maintained some harmony in the camp.
"After everyone had a cold shower and time to cool off, we sat down together at the hotel and talked things through face to face” he said.
"Everybody said what he needed to say. That was important because it's like being in a couple in that if you don't talk to each other, things can build up.
"I'd have been much more worried if there had been no reaction at all and what happened after the game in the dressing room was normal.”
The stories of dressing room tension are threatening to de-rail France’s Euro campaign and it was Giroud’s quotes after the game against Sweden on Tuesday that has drawn attention to the matter. The striker however has justified his words and feels that the squad are stronger for the experience.
"It's bizarre to qualify with a loss. Yes there was a bit of anger. I hope this helps us ask the right questions of ourselves. We analysed things when we had cooled down a little and feel happier about it. When you talk too soon after a match, sometimes you say stupid things."
Karim Benzema will be facing a number of Real Madrid teammates when the two sides meet on Saturday, the former Lyon striker though pulled no punches admitting that if les Bleus are as lacklustre against Spain as they were against Sweden then they will be on the next plane home.
"We just didn't show up and playing Spain is our consolation prize. If we want to achieve something during these European championships, we can't reproduce this type of performance."
Saturday’s meeting with Spain will bring France back to the Donbass Arena in Donetsk where France have played the majority of their games so far. Hoping for a performance that will be more electric in style than the weather they play in, the odds are stacked against France. They do have one thing going for them though; the last team to beat Spain in an international quarter final was themselves en route to the World Cup Final in 2006. Will lightning strike a second time?