France seek Sarajevo lift
France travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina tomorrow desperate to escape the nightmare that is currently engulfing them. Les Bleus finished bottom of Group A at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and although Raymond Domenech has since been replaced by Laurent Blanc in the hot-seat, the new coach has lost his opening two games - the second of which was a 1-0 defeat by visiting Belarus on Friday in their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying curtain-raiser.
Now they must visit Sarajevo while in a state of vulnerability, and Blanc has admitted his side will not be favourites: "I do not see us say we are going to Bosnia to win."
Asked when his team would be competitive, he said: "I don't know. It can take a year but it might also never happen. I'm just hoping we can solve our problem as quickly as possible."
Chelsea midfielder Florent Malouda echoed his coach's sentiments, telling UEFA.com: "We have to get a result. This team needs a good performance and a result that can become a reference. We know it'll be very hard but maybe we should follow the example of Belarus, who came here looking for a point and then gradually started to play with more freedom."
Dzeko backs France, hails Susic
Blanc's task became that little bit harder when Loic Remy, Guillaume Hoarau and Louis Saha were ruled out, although Blanc had some rare good news when Karim Benzema declared himself fit following an ankle injury. In contrast, the hosts started their qualification campaign with a 3-0 win over Luxembourg and they will be confident of facing France when their opponents are rock bottom.
However, striker Edin Dzeko has insisted the 1998 world champions are still the favourites to finish top of the group. "It is obvious France are the favourites," he said. "We are aiming for second place. We absolutely want to participate in the next European Championship."
The Wolfsburg striker also believes they can re-emerge as a great side, adding: "Absolutely. They now have a new coach who can create a new momentum. I am convinced that the French will soon again be conquerors."
Talking about his coach, Safet Susic, Dzeko explained: "He is a young coach who has many ambitions. He is someone who communicates a lot with his players. As a player, he had a great career. At the time, I was too young to watch his matches, but I watched a few DVDs and I must say he had an excellent reading of the game."