Laurent Blanc tells UEFA.com that he is convinced France will get chances to score against Spain in tonight's UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final but concedes his players will have to fully exploit their talents to compete with "the best side in Europe".
UEFA.com: France went into their last group match against Sweden as section leaders. Are you disappointed you let that position slip?
Laurent Blanc: Yes. We got ourselves in a good position by doing what was necessary against England and Ukraine. We knew what we needed to do against Sweden and went into the match with two objectives: qualifying for the quarter-finals and finishing top of the group. We only succeeded in achieving one of those objectives.
UEFA.com: Would you have preferred to play Italy rather than Spain?
Blanc: It's not that I would've preferred Italy. I just think we all agree that Spain are the best team in Europe at the moment – or at least one of the best. Italy are also a good team, but when you play against Spain, you know for sure it's going to be very tough.
UEFA.com: Were France guilty of over-confidence against Sweden?
Blanc: I'd rather say we just didn't play well enough. We didn't play at a level necessary to trouble the Swedes. It was a poor performance rather than a problem of complacency.
UEFA.com: How would you describe this current Spain team?
Blanc: They had some problems getting through the group. They managed to beat Croatia in the end, but it wasn't easy for them. This side has a lot of self-confidence because they've played together for a long time and achieved so much. That gives them more confidence than their opponents. There's no doubt it's going to be hard, but let's try to play our own game and take our chances if we get some.
UEFA.com: What will be the key factors if France are to win?
Blanc: Against Spain, you have to be very strong defensively; we'll have to defend much better than we did against Sweden. We were not at all good in this respect on Tuesday so we're going to have to look at things and really raise our game. We should get some chances in attack because every team gets chances against Spain. If you can defend well and keep the score tight, then you can then take advantage. Let's hope the game remains close.
UEFA.com: The pressure is off a little because Spain are favourites...
Blanc: Look, we'll have to put in a top-class performance. Everyone needs to be aware of that. The technical staff and the players have to realise that in order to beat Spain at a UEFA European Championship you have to play really, really, really well, both individually and as a team.
UEFA.com: What do you fear in particular about La Roja?
Blanc: You have to fear the whole team. I just watched their games against Croatia and Italy. They played some really slick football. The players have been together since 2008 and know each other really well. They all have different qualities but complement each other perfectly. They're a machine – a very nice machine. We'll have to work out a way to unsettle them.
UEFA.com: Is there one individual who really stands out for you in the Spain side?
Blanc: Every player is good because they all play good football. The goalkeeper, the centre-backs, the full-backs… they are all good on the ball. I know Xavi Hernández and Sergio Busquets very well and I hold them in high esteem. Then there's a guy like Andrés Iniesta – everything looks so easy for them.
UEFA.com: France have not lost in three games at the Donbass Arena, including two at UEFA EURO 2012. Might that help you?
Blanc: You could look at it like that. We are based here in Donetsk and we know the stadium. We'll try to take advantage of that. But you know, the pitch is still green, it's 105 metres long and 76 or 77 metres wide. We won't think we're unbeatable just because we're playing at the Donbass Arena.
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