Ligue 1 - Are France back on form?

Sun, 10 Oct 13:03:00 2010

Four months after becoming a laughing stock at the World Cup, France have sprung back to life in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

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Les Bleus, who made an embarrassing early exit in South Africa after Nicolas Anelka was kicked out of the squad for insulting coach Raymond Domenech, top their qualifying Group D after a 2-0 home win over Romania on Saturday.

"Were are creating something," new coach Laurent Blanc told reporters after France's first win at the Stade de France in almost a year.

"We need to re-invest this energy because there will be difficult periods. But for the moment there's a lot of pleasure."

Although they struggled in the first half against Romania, France were loudly cheered by a full-capacity crowd and broke the deadlock in the final 10 minutes thanks to their substitutes.

Captain Alou Diarra set up Loic Remy for the opener a few minutes after the Marseille striker replaced Mathieu Valbuena.

Substitute Dimitri Payet raced into the box to set up substitute Yoann Gourcuff for the second goal on a springlike night in Paris.

"There is a deep change," winger Florent Malouda said.

Diarra, impressive as a holding midfielder, paid tribute to Blanc.

"Yes, there is a Laurent Blanc effect. There is a young squad, everybody is involved," he said.

Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri, overlooked by Domenech for the World Cup, was influential in a central playmaking role.

"It's a position I like, I started my career as a central midfielder. Although I have been on the right flank at Arsenal, playing in a central position is what suits me best," he said.

Under Domenech the French players would easily give up when facing sides camped deep in their own half, but they did not do so against Romania.

"We were patient and it paid off," Diarra said.

France, 27th in the world rankings, recorded two wins in a row for the first time since beating Austria and Ireland late last year.

"We must continue to win and it will ease the pressure on the team," Diarra said.

"We want France to be back among the top teams. We must not rest on our laurels and continue to win. We have to get used to victory."

France next play Luxembourg in Metz on Tuesday.

Reuters

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