Remy ready for Bosnia showdown
France forward Loic Remy is steeling himself for a battle as Les Bleus seek to secure their place in the finals of UEFA EURO 2012 against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Paris tomorrow night. The Marseille striker scored in the 3-0 win over Albania on Friday which left Laurent Blanc's team needing to avoid defeat against the Bosnians at the Stade de France to top qualifying Group D and book their passage to next summer's tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Remy told the French football federation's official website www.fff.fr: "This will be one of the big games of the Laurent Blanc era. We are first in the group and games do not come with more pressure than that. The Bosnians will not give any ground, they will not come as spectators. It will be a battle and we need to respond to that."
Blanc believes the match will serve as an excellent insight into the sudden-death nature of international football at the business end of tournaments for his inexperienced players. "Our players are reassuring technically but lack experience. This has been seen," he told the federation's website. "If we have more experience, we can be more effective in attacking and this experience can be acquired through matches like that on Tuesday night."
Blanc moved away from his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation against Albania as Remy operated alongside Bafetimbi Gomis up front. Although Blanc admitted this was not something Les Bleus would be able to do against higher-calibre opponents, Marvin Martin, who replaced the injured Yohan Cabaye against Albania, was encouraged by the side's ability to adapt.
Martin said: "Against Albania, we saw beautiful things and this must continue. It is a great victory and it's good for confidence. This proves that we can use varied systems of play if we're all working towards the same direction. Bosnia is a very good opponent, but being at home will be a plus."
On the injury front, Cabaye managed just two minutes of the second half before succumbing to an ankle injury against Albania but is hopeful of being involved against Safet Susic's team. Blanc is adamant he will not take a risk on any player who is less than 100 per cent fit, so defenders Patrice Evra and Adil Rami, who both have thigh problems, will be doubts to feature at this stage. Paris St Germain striker Kevin Gameiro and Barcelona defender Eric Abidal returned to training at the weekend after injuries ruled them out of the Albania game.
Bosnia-Herzegovina are guaranteed at least a play-off place, but playmaker Miralem Pjanic, a former star of Ligue 1 with Lyon, believes it will take a "miracle" for his team to win in France and book automatic passage to their first ever senior international tournament. "We have nothing to lose," the Roma man told uefa.com. "France are favourites and they won't surrender their superiority easily, but with a little bit of luck we can maybe pull off a miracle in Paris."
The other match which rounds off Group D tomorrow night sees Albania host Romania in Tirana. Neither side can improve their position in the group with a victory, so pride - and in the case of Albania, revenge - is all that is at stake. Albania are keen to make amends after a 6-1 hammering against Romania during qualification for Euro 2008 four years ago.
Cesena forward Erjon Bogdani told Gazeta Shqiptare: "We want to take revenge for the defeat in Romania four years ago when we lost 6-1. We need to evolve in front of our home fans, and should play better, if only by reminding ourselves of that 6-1 failure, which is always in our memory." Hamburg midfielder Altin Lala added: "I hope the fans can help us in the match with Romania, especially since it is the last of this campaign. We want a dignified exit from the scene."
Romania coach Victor Piturca, who is under pressure following his side's failure to secure at least a play-off place, must do without defender Alexandru Matel after he was reported by Prosport to have suffered a metatarsal injury in a training ground collision with striker Adrian Mutu. Romania could only draw 2-2 in their final home qualifier against Belarus last Friday.