IN-FIGHTING that marred France’s 2010 World Cup campaign showed signs of returning as players argued after a 2-0 loss to Sweden in the final Group D pool game of Euro 2012.
Tempers rose in the dressing room inside Kiev’s Olympic Stadium after Tuesday’s defeat by the already eliminated Swedes.
The result meant France faces world and European champions Spain in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
“When you’ve lost you’re a lot more hot blooded,” France coach Laurent Blanc said. “It got heated, but we all cooled down after a good shower.”
Blanc became manager after France finished bottom of their group at the World Cup two years ago following two losses and a draw in South Africa.
During that tournament, players refused to train for a day in |support of striker Nicolas Anelka, who was sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech.
Blanc demanded players behave “impeccably” after he took charge. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said the team ambiance was much better at the start of the European Championship than it was in South Africa.
France outplayed England in a 1-1 draw before beating co-host Ukraine 2-0 to lead Group D.
England, who defeated Sweden 3-2, beat Ukraine 1-0 to top the pool and set up a meeting with Italy on Sunday for a place in the semi-finals.
Florent Malouda, a member of the 2010 panel and the oldest player in the France squad, said he criticised teammates after the defeat to Sweden, which “awoke some demons in me. Sometimes you need to aim a few bursts of gunfire at each other,” the 32-year-old Chelsea midfielder said.
“The defeat and subsequent arguments may help players’ motivation for the Spain game,” said Blanc.
“It can be constructive. It shows there’s a reaction and a bit of electricity.
“I hope there will be some against Spain but in the right sense.”