If Laurent Blanc and his team were looking to draw a line under what happened at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, then a comfortable victory over old enemies England in their own backyard has gone a long way towards doing that.
France were full value for their 2-1 win at Wembley on Wednesday, with goals from Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena delighting their travelling support, as well as followers back home. The man who set up their second, Bacary Sagna, was as delighted as the fans at the final whistle.
The Arsenal star spoke to FIFA.com after the match to discuss the events of the 90 minutes, as well as the performance of his Gunners team-mates Samir Nasri and Kieran Gibbs.
FIFA.com: How important was the win for the confidence of the team after what happened at the FIFA World Cup?
Bacary Sagna: What happened at the World Cup is the past now, we’ve learned a lot and tonight we wanted to show another side to our play. We are very happy, the French people are very happy and that is the most important thing. Now we just want to look forward to the future and forget what happened in South Africa.
You must be happy coming to the home of English football, controlling the game as you have done, and getting the win.
Yes. That’s what we wanted to do. It was important for us to play as well as we can. We wanted to play our own style, we wanted to pass the ball as well as can and naturally we wanted to win because there are no friendly games. So, we can be happy. It’s a massive thing to win here.
It looked like a very comfortable win for France. Was it?
No, it was difficult. England played quite well. They had a very young team and they had to show a lot for their fans and they gave everything. We had to run a lot, so it wasn’t easy.
You scored a goal at the weekend against Everton and then you set up one today, you must be feeling extremely confident at the moment.
Yes I am, but I have to improve and I have to be decisive. I was decisive last weekend and again tonight, and for me it’s good. But I have to keep working as I have been doing.
Samir Nasri is playing extremely well at the moment. How good a player is he?
We all know Samir is one of the most talented French players and tonight he showed that again. I’m sure he’ll play like that in the future too. He is in great form.
There’s a very similar style between your play with France today that of Arsenal; is that the case?
Yes. To be able to play good football you have to take some risks and we were not scared to play when they were closing us down and I think that was the difference.
Of course, you came up against your Arsenal team-mate Kieran Gibbs. Was it a bit like a training game for you?
Not at all! With the fans and the atmosphere it was not at all like training. It was quite difficult to break down England’s left side and I think he did very well as it was only his second appearance and the English fans can be proud of him.
How big a talent is he and how far do you think he can go?
Personally I think he will be the next England left-back. He did well tonight, he’s only 21 and he will improve a lot. He’s a top class player and a potential world-class player in the making.