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Gonfalone plans France's finals path

Acknowledging that the finals draw "could potentially open the door for us", France coach Patrick Gonfalone will take inspiration from May's Under-17 triumph.

France coach Patrick Gonfalone
France coach Patrick Gonfalone ©Ivan Klindić

UEFA.com: What are your impressions of the draw for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, which begins on 6 July in Greece?

Patrick Gonfalone: Τhe tournament favourites – Germany, Spain and the Netherlands – were drawn into the same group and that's a relatively tough section. The fact we're in the other group could potentially open the door for us. However, knowing how football works, we're aware that every team in the finals is a great one.

UEFA.com: France conceded just two goals in qualifying...

Gonfalone: Our aim is to have a fine balance in the team, with a good defence to complement our attack. No doubt most teams will have hugely talented strikers and we aim to have a competent defence to stop them. We also have interesting attacking players. We start from a solid defence and then let our attack do the talking. 

France celebrate reaching the finals
France celebrate reaching the finals©LFBN

UEFA.com: What result would make you happy?

Gonfalone: Our main aim was to make it to the finals. Having achieved that, if we could make it to the semi-finals we'd consider our target met. However, we will focus on going as far as possible, as our U17s did earlier this summer in winning their European title.

UEFA.com: Does the U17s' win in Bulgaria in May give your team inspiration?

Gonfalone: Of course, I saw that. It was a deserved win by a team who managed to stay composed, calm and focused on what they had to do. They were efficient, too. It's food for thought for us. We'll try to find the same spirit, to follow in their footsteps. Winning titles is great, but we also keep in mind that reaching the last four is our primary goal for youth tournaments. It's the same for other countries; being in the semi-finals on a regular basis shows your game is developing well.

UEFA.com: What sort of shape is your squad in?

Gonfalone: Hopefully I have a full squad, but you never know what can happen. Regarding how we'll play, it will be important for the lads to adapt to the opposition. We'll certainly start with a given formation, but the strength of a team is to know how to evolve during a game to be efficient. When you hit international level as an 18-year-old player, you must be able to approach it like that.

UEFA.com: Aside from developing players, what does this tournament offer to an experienced coach like you?

Gonfalone: It's always great for any coach to be involved in such a tournament. You always have new things to pick up here and there. I'm more than sure I'll learn something special from it. It could be about tactics, physical – you don't know, but a coach has a lot to take in. For example, it's always interesting to see how my colleagues from other countries adapt their teams and to exchange ideas on that with them.

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