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France needed to let it all out

Published: Thursday 21 June 2012, 17.20CET
Having nearly reached breaking point, France team reporter Matt Spiro has been re-energised; he is sure Les Bleus can also bounce back thanks to some therapy of their own.
by Matthew Spiro
from Donetsk


Published: Thursday 21 June 2012, 17.20CET

France needed to let it all out

Having nearly reached breaking point, France team reporter Matt Spiro has been re-energised; he is sure Les Bleus can also bounce back thanks to some therapy of their own.

Three weeks away from home is a long time. Three weeks in a Donetsk hotel room, eating the same food at the same places and working with the same people is a very long time. Three weeks of disjointed conversations on Skype with your wife is just too long.

Now, before I'm accused of being an ungrateful whinger, please bear with me. I am delighted to be working at this fantastic tournament, and reporting on this wonderfully unpredictable France team has been a brilliant experience. The hospitality in Donetsk is first class and I've loved getting to know a great city. It's just that at some point the routine and the tiredness gets the better of you; you crack.

My breaking point came yesterday. I felt jaded and a tad homesick, and was in a bad mood. I was unfriendly – even moody – with the lovely waitresses at breakfast and rude to the receptionist who told me the taxi would take 20 minutes to come.

After three weeks of waiting for my perpetually late colleague (sorry Fred), I decided to spend a day away from his otherwise delightful company. Fortunately, I was able to get this pent-up frustration out of my system with a night on the Donetsk tiles – an activity I highly recommend doing once in a while. I'm now as fresh and enthusiastic as I was when I arrived all those moons ago.

Browsing through the French press, it seems Les Bleus hit their breaking point on Tuesday night in the dressing room after the Sweden defeat. More than a few voices were raised. Depending on which newspaper you read, Laurent Blanc shouted at Hatem Ben Arfa, Alou Diarra at Samir Nasri, Alain Boghossian at Philippe Mexès and so on.

©AFP/Getty Images

France are put through their paces in training

The exact details of what truly happened may never be known. But no one should be at all surprised to learn that tensions were running high after a disappointing result and, above all, after three weeks living in each other's pockets. "It's normal," said Blanc's assistant coach Boghossian on Thursday. "I'd have been more worried if there had been no reaction at all. It got too much for them and they needed to let it out somehow."

I can fully understand Boghossian's claim that the lively discussions had a cathartic affect. The night the players subsequently spent with their wives and girlfriends in Kyiv probably helped too. Boghossian was asked if testosterone levels in the camp had fallen in the last 24 hours. He didn't know. I'm pretty sure mine are still high, but I'm nevertheless feeling re-energised and ready to attack the remainder of the competition. Blanc will be hoping France are too.

Last updated: 21/06/12 17.36CET

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