Gallas: Final is minimum requirement for Euros

May 26, 2008

TIGNES, May 26 (International Team) - Veteran defender William Gallas insists a place in the final of Euro 2008 is the minimum France should demand from the tournament.

Les Bleus are currently preparing for the showpiece event at Tignes and will warm up for their first match by playing Ecuador on Tuesday followed by two more games against fellow South American sides Paraguay and Colombia.

The last two games will see the players battle for a place in the starting XI, but before most even start thinking about the opening match against Romania, they know they have one more chance to impress and book their ticket to Switzerland and Austria.

Coach Raymond Domenech has revealed he will only tell the players on Wednesday if they have made the final cut for the championship.

One person almost certain to be on the plane is Gallas, and the Arsenal defender claims that no matter who is part of Domenech's 23-man squad, a place in the final has to be the target.

'We were in the final of the 2006 World Cup,' he said. 'So anything less than the final of the European championships would be a failure, even if a European Championship is more difficult than a World Cup.

'I am comfortable with this France team, we are happy to be together and later, on the pitch, we will have the desire to work hard and to fight for each other.

'I feel this France team is like the one during the 2006 World Cup.

'Not the one from the first few matches, when we were less good, but it is like the team from the quarter-finals of the World Cup, when the team was really strong.'

Ecuador though are unlikely to provide a tough test for France as they are in the midst of a poor run of form.

The South Americans have lost three of their past five games, twice conceding five goals - in a 5-0 defeat to Brazil followed by a 5-1 humiliation in Paraguay.

However, Ecuador tend to do well against European opposition and have drawn with the Republic of Ireland and beaten Sweden over the past year.

France, who sit 48 places above Ecuador in the FIFA World rankings, will be tougher opposition but the South Americans will be hoping for a good performance to reinvigorate their World Cup qualifying bid.

Ecuador will also want to restore national pride in a team that has been in free-fall over the past year, dropping from 24th to 55th in the rankings.

France face Romania, Holland and Italy in Group C and it would give Gallas great pleasure to help eliminate the team that beat them in the World Cup final.

'We hope we can eliminate them,' he added. 'And why not in the first round?

'With Italy, the rivalry is always there.'