Blanc: Shevchenko is the dangerman
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France coach Laurent Blanc is well aware of the threat posed by Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko.

The former AC Milan and Chelsea forward rose even higher in the estimation of fans in his homeland with both goals in their opening Group D win over Sweden.

As a former central defender, Blanc has witnessed first-hand the talents of the Ukrainian and knows that despite his advancing years - Shevchenko will be 36 in September - he remains a threat.

"Shevchenko is someone I know well. I was lucky enough to play against him and sometimes I was not happy at the end of it because he is not easy to play against," said the France coach ahead of the two countries' clash tonight.

"He is no longer 20 but he is so clever with the runs that he makes and he showed that in the first game.

"We won't focus solely on Shevchenko. In my opinion, he's a great player and always in the right place at the right time. The big players perform at big tournaments and he is showing that."

Blanc felt his side under-performed in their opening 1-1 draw against England but expects an improvement against the co-hosts at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.

"The problem in the side is that the attacking players did not make the difference but it's not just them," he added.

"They need to play with full confidence in their ability. They need to play near the opponent's goal and not far from it. We need confident and decisive players. They need to take the initiative and be confident."

France are unbeaten in 22 matches, stretching back to September 2010, but the draw against England set a new national record of eight final tournament games without a win, eclipsing a sequence of seven set between 1960 and 1978.

Blokhin happy with underdog role
Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin insists France and fellow Group D rivals England remain the top two contenders to qualify for the quarter-finals.

"I think England and France are the favourites in the group," he said. "If (Laurent) Blanc said France are an outsider he did not mean it. They have great young players.

"I said after Sweden we haven't achieved anything yet. My main task is to give strength to the players and make it possible that we get through the group stage. In my head I have this game but I try not to think about it because the pressure was very big after the first match."