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Sweden out to trip France up

Sweden may be out ahead of their last Group D game but Laurent Blanc knows "they won't come to make up the numbers" as leaders France look to seal a last-eight place.

Sweden out to trip France up
Sweden out to trip France up ©UEFA.com

France are in a strong position as they take on eliminated Sweden but Laurent Blanc warned his players of the danger of taking their "eye off the ball" as they attempt to seal a UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final berth in Kyiv.

Top of Group D after drawing 1-1 with England and beating Ukraine 2-0, Les Bleus could afford to suffer a one-goal defeat and still progress regardless of the other result. A heavier loss might still see them through in second, depending on the result between England and Ukraine. The situation looks pretty healthy, but that is what concerns Blanc the most.

"There's always the danger that you may take your eye off the ball," the France coach said. "So it is up to us to prepare seriously. We also need to be very aware of what we want to achieve. We were very happy following the Ukraine game, rightly so, but as I said to the players, we now need to prepare for the next game, as a game like this against Sweden demands it."

Blanc hinted at team changes, and Yohan Cabaye will have a fitness test after struggling with a thigh injury, but the coach said he would not be swayed by the fact that Mathieu Debuchy, Philippe Mexès and Jérémy Ménez are one booking away from a suspension, knowing that Sweden are not a side to be taken lightly.

"Sweden expected [to achieve] more but they are still a very difficult side to play against," Blanc said. "They are very physical – they have a playing style based on a lot of strength in the tackle. They've got some very big players so they will try to impose their game on us. They won't come to make up the numbers."

Missing Johan Elmander – who had come on against England despite a foot problem – and possibly also Rasmus Elm, who has been feeling unwell and also has a knock, Erik Hamrén's side are certain to finish fourth after losing 2-1 to Ukraine and 3-2 to England, despite leading in both games. However, their determination has not dipped. The coach offered his men Sunday off – the squad opted instead to train.

"Everyone showed up except Elmander, who is in rehab," Hamrén said. "I was very happy about it and that's why I believe in this squad. This team could be really good. They have the ambition to be and they can be."

Sweden have proved a popular draw in Kyiv and, with around 18,000 fans in the city, their shirts have been almost as common a sight as the similarly-coloured Ukraine tops. "We feel sad to be leaving Kyiv and Ukraine," Hamrén said. "We have had a fantastic time here – we could happily have stayed in our hotel a lot longer. When we lost against England, the squad were very down, and if we had been in a bad place they would have really felt that, but we had a great day on Sunday. We trained earlier so they could have a relaxed afternoon and evening. We're sad to be going."