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â€¢ Arsenal defender insists dressing room showdown will help
â€¢ Koscielny wants to face Fernando Torres in quarter-final
France face Spain in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals in Donetsk on Saturday night with attention again drawn towards dressing room arguments. But the Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny, who will play his first minutes while Philippe MexÃ¨s serves a suspension, insists that there were things that had to be said and that the confrontations that occurred after France’s 2-0 defeat to Sweden could do his side some good.
The France coach, Laurent Blanc, admitted that it had got “heated” after their final group game, bringing back memories of the 2010 World Cup when the France squad tore itself apart. “What I saw awoke some demons in me and I didn’t want to express myself,” Florent Malouda revealed. “Because in the heat of the moment there was the risk of launching rockets and missiles. There are some things to sort out and sometimes you can really hurt someone with a comment that you make.”
There have been suggestions of players falling out and accusations levelled at Samir Nasri for his selfishness on the pitch, while even the change of coach and an overhaul of much of the playing staff may not have been sufficient to completely rid the French of some of the simmering resentments of two summers ago.
However, Koscielny insisted that the row had been put behind the players now and that it might even have done them some good. The defender also sought to draw attention back to France’s impressive run before this tournament. “Things were said in the changing room,” Koscielny admitted. “They were said, but that will stay between us. There were some things to say and everyone’s aware of that.
“It was a hard game. We were below par on every level and when we got back to the dressing room we knew we hadn’t done what we had to do and some things were said. But the most important thing was to qualify. These things happen. Now we have to turn the page. We were unbeaten in 23 games so I don’t see why we should throw all of that away.”
Koscielny added that he was ready to take up his place alongside the Valencia centre-back Adil Rami and hinted that he would perhaps prefer Fernando Torres to play for Spain than to be left out. Having had the opportunity to face Torres before, he believes that the familiarity might help and admitted that Spain’s false No9 formation causes defenders problems because it leaves them without a reference point against which to fix their position. There was a suggestion too that France would not risk opening up against the Spanish.
“I know Torres well having played against him and it might also help me that I have played against Barcelona â€“ and Spain and Barcelona resemble each other,” Koscielny said. “It’s easier to play against a team with a fixed centre-forward. [Playing without one] means that you have to keep your concentration and keep an eye on everything that’s going on around you.
“Do we fear Spain? Yes and no. Everyone would dream of playing against Spain, whether it’s in a quarter-final or a semi-final. It’s an exciting game to play in. It’s up to us to enjoy it, I don’t see why we should fear them. They have their qualities but so do we. If you go all-out attack against Spain, you are in trouble. We will have to keep it very tight against them.
“Rami and I have played one match and a half together and it went quite well. We know each other’s qualities. He knows I’ll be there at any time to cover if there’s a problem. I feel in good shape physically. I try and give my all in training. I played the whole game against Serbia but haven’t played since, but I still feel fine. We’re playing against the defending champions and I think this has all the ingredients to be a fantastic match.”