France's chickens remain uncounted

France were almost perfect in topping UEFA Women's EURO 2013 Group C but their coach Bruno Bini is here to remind them that there is still a lot of work to be done.

France confirmed their status against England
France confirmed their status against England ©Getty Images

Fourth at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup and at the 2012 London Olympics, France started UEFA Women's EURO 2013 among the favourites. Their three performances in Group C did not change this status.

They started with many people's outsiders Russia in Norrkoping last Friday. "I could say we were lucky to start against Russia," said midfielder Camille Abily after the 3-1 win. "It was a good game to get into the tournament before getting better step by step." Even Elena Morozova's goal at the end of the game for Russia was merely a stain on an almost perfect performance.

Against Spain, who created the first surprise of the tournament by beating 2009 runners-up England, Les Bleues showed their defensive strength. Wendie Renard scored the only goal of the game from a header to send France to the quarter-finals with a match to speak.

The towering central defender even joined forwards Marie-Laure Delie and Eugénie Le Sommer at the top of France's scoring rankings after her goal in the classy 3-0 defeat of England in Linkoping, where they remain to play Denmark on Monday. "I'm sure France can go all the way to the final," said a Fara Williams after her country's elimination.

How can we not agree with her when we know that the substitutes perform as well as the usual starters, that France have the best defence of the tournament with Germany and Norway, the best attack behind Sweden and are the only team that has not picked up a booking?

So how can they avoid complacency? "We can always have a bad day but it won't be because of that," assured France's coach Bruno Bini. "The girls focus on what they have to do and I'm here to remind them of it. On Thursday morning, I showed them a La Fontaine fable called 'The Bear and Two Companions'. The conclusion of this fable gave the famous French expression 'Do not sell the skin of the bear before killing it'."

Also, every day, Bini displays a quote on the information panel in front of the dining room at Les Bleues' hotel. On Friday: "In the morning when you are a bee, no moaning, you need to go on foraging."

Bini explained: "It's a humoristic way of telling them: we are in the quarter-finals, but when you are worker bees, you have to go back to work the next morning. This morning, they went training. I remind them why they are here." He could oversee his 100th France game in the final. But Denmark, in his 98th, have other plans.

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