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French strategy clear for second leg

Published: Monday 15 October 2012, 10.02CET
With Norway's Thomas Rogne plotting their demise, France goalkeeper Ali Ahamada has laid out his team's game plan for the second leg of their Under-21 play-off on Tuesday.
by Ian Holyman
French strategy clear for second leg
Thomas Rogne is intending to make life difficult for France ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 15 October 2012, 10.02CET

French strategy clear for second leg

With Norway's Thomas Rogne plotting their demise, France goalkeeper Ali Ahamada has laid out his team's game plan for the second leg of their Under-21 play-off on Tuesday.

Ali Ahamada told UEFA.com the France can expect a rough ride when they step out for the second leg of their 2013 UEFA Under-21 European Championship play-off in Norway.

The Toulouse FC goalkeeper was a virtual spectator as Les Bleuets dominated Friday's first leg in Le Havre. However for all their possession and chances created, they only emerged with a slender 1-0 win courtesy of Raphaël Varane's first-half header, a result which leaves them with little room for manoeuvre in Drammen on Tuesday.

"We have to prepare well, and be ready physically and mentally. As we'll be playing at their place, they're going to want to play a little higher up the pitch, produce a little more, and try and cause us more problems," said Ahamada, who had only one genuine save to make in Le Havre. "That means that we'll have space in behind them, and it's up to us to try and exploit that."

Coach Eric Mombaerts will have to re-think his starting XI, however, with Olympique Lyonnais' attacking midfielder Clément Grenier sustaining a left thigh strain in the first leg, ruling him out of what is likely to be tense second leg. "It's going to be a smaller stadium in Norway, more intimate, and we've got everything to play for," Norway defender Thomas Rogne pointed out.

"They've only got one goal on us. That's not a lot in football. Things change quite quickly. If we go one goal up, suddenly it's all even again. We're not going to throw all men into attack straightaway, but we want to press high up the pitch and perhaps dominate possession a bit more in Norway."

That may be difficult if France's Yann M'Vila shows the sort of form he displayed in Friday's encounter on the Normandy coast. The Stade Rennais FC midfielder, who featured for the senior team at UEFA EURO 2012, was an authoritative presence in a more attack-minded role than he habitually adopts for club and country. M'Vila, however, remained cautious about his team's chances of reaching the finals at this level for the first time since 2006.

"We'll go into the game with more confidence because of the first-leg result," he said. "But we're going to have to be careful. We know that the Norwegians will fight for everything, and are going to do all they can to win at home. We've taken a step towards qualifying. Tuesday is the last step, the last barrier to be cleared. We're going to have to be united and determined to win there."

Last updated: 04/12/12 0.09CET

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http://www.uefa.com/under21/season=2013/matches/round=2000193/match=2010669/prematch/preview/index.html#french+strategy+clear+second

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