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Lloris ready to lead France against Germany

Freshly installed as France's permanent captain, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris identified Germany as "among the three best nations in world" ahead of Wednesday's friendly in Bremen.

Hugo Lloris ponders life as France captain in Bremen
Hugo Lloris ponders life as France captain in Bremen ©Getty Images

Laurent Blanc paused for dramatic effect before answering the question with no more than a broad smile and a nod of the head. For the last 18 months, the French public has been waiting impatiently to discover the identity of the new France captain – and finally, in the bowels of the Weserstadion on Tuesday evening, they got their answer.

The presence at the press conference of Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Hugo Lloris seemed to be a giveaway sign, and Blanc confirmed that the 25-year-old will wear the armband for Wednesday's friendly against Germany as well as at UEFA EURO 2012. "You can consider that the case," Blanc said when asked whether Lloris had been appointed on a long-term basis. "I feel Hugo gives us more guarantees. He’s somebody who shows self-control and a clear head – important qualities for this role."

His announcement brings an end to months of debate in the French media. Seven different players have led France out since the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and while all can claim to have put forward strong cases to keep the armband, nobody had stood out sufficiently for Blanc to make his definitive decision until now.

Lloris impressed Blanc in the six games he has already played as captain and is confident the extra responsibility will allow him to continue to thrive. "It's a big show of faith from the coach and I have to show him he's right," said the former OGC Nice custodian, capped 30 times by France. "I can't say this is something I was expecting or especially targeting. But it's an objective and a dream for every player. I'm very proud."

Few would dispute Blanc's view that Lloris is one of the best and most important players in the squad, yet the OL No1's mild manner has led some to question his suitability to the role of leader. Lloris offered a firm and authoritative response to the suggestion he is too quiet to be captain, saying: "You don't know what I'm like in the dressing room. I have my own personality. Whether I'm captain or not, I'm not afraid to speak out. I've done so in the past and will do so again if the situation demands it."

The Nice-born shot-stopper may need to be vocal in Bremen on Wednesday against one of the favourites for this summer’s tournament. Although the visitors are unbeaten in 17 matches, they are missing several key players and expect a severe test.

"Germany are favourites because they’re among the three best nations in world," Lloris stressed. "They have a status we no longer have. We are working to get back to that level, but while Germany can think about winning the EURO, we'll try to get out of our group first of all."

Blanc, meanwhile, agreed France are playing catch-up nowadays. "You only have to look at the recent performances of the two teams [at major finals] to see that Germany have moved ahead," explained the coach, who is poised to hand striker Olivier Giroud his first start in the absence of both Loïc Rémy and Karim Benzema. "Germany are surer of themselves and they have more guarantees. But the charm of football is that even the 'weaker' team can win."

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