France coach Pierre Mankowski has guided his side to the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Estonia in fine fashion. Les Bleus topped their elite round group with three wins from three matches and a goal difference of +9 – bettered only by Portugal. After being drawn in Group B alongside Croatia, England and Serbia, Mankowski told UEFA.com that while he has reason to be wary of all three of France's rivals, his eyes are fixed squarely on the prize in Estonia.
UEFA.com: What are your aims at this tournament?
Pierre Mankowski: When you start a competition, you always want to go to the wire. That's it, that's our sole aim. We'll have to see how it goes but the aim is to win the tournament.
UEFA.com: What sort of shape is your squad in?
Mankowski: The players are back from holiday. The preparations have been short and matches are almost upon us now. It's the same for the other teams, though. Over the course of the year we have played different kinds of matches, depending on what our starting XI was. I did my best to leave players available for their club. We got some good results, some results less so. The aim was to build something as a team so that we would come to the end of the season with a structure in place.
UEFA.com: Are you without any key players?
Mankowski: I have a centre-back, Kurt Zouma, who is out injured and also AJ Auxerre's Yaya Sanogo, who is missing due to surgery.
UEFA.com: How would you describe your playing style?
Mankowski: Since the beginning of the season, we have often played a 4-2-3-1. I'd say it's a 4-2-3-1 to defend, 4-3-3 to attack. But we have altered the system on occasions. In some halves we played 4-4-2. We have a squad receptive enough to be able to switch from one system to another, depending on the opposition or the scoreline.
UEFA.com: What are your strengths?
Mankowski: The way we play as a team. Beyond that we have a couple of attacking players who can win games at any moment. I'd say there is balance in the team, which is interesting.
UEFA.com: Is there any team you fear in your section?
Mankowski: We fear all three of them. We met Serbia in April [a 2-0 win] but they were not at full steam. We met England at the Limoges tournament and it was 1-1 after an exciting game. We don't know Croatia as well as the others, but we saw their results and we are wary of them, too.
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