France keep eye on the prize for Sweden game
KIEV (Reuters) - The identities of the teams qualifying from Group C will have no bearing on the starting 11 France coach Laurent Blanc selects for their final Euro 2012 Group D game against eliminated Sweden, he said on Monday.
France, top of the group on four points, will face Croatia, Spain or Italy if they go through.
"We're just focused on tomorrow's game," Blanc, the former world and European champion, told a news conference.
"Our motivation is to win our game. We will watch tonight's game like we often do, we will see who is first, who is second. But it will have no effect on who plays tomorrow."
France will qualify if they draw or win against Sweden and even a defeat could see them through if they lose by just a one-goal margin.
England are second, also on four points, with Ukraine, who they face on Tuesday in Donetsk, on three points. Sweden have no points.
Philippe Mexes, Mathieu Debuchy and Jeremy Menez will miss out on a possible quarter-final match if they pick up a second yellow card but that will not affect Blanc's choices either.
"Maybe I will field another team against Sweden," he said. "The players are physically well prepared. We will field the best possible team against Sweden," Blanc added.
"Suspensions can be a concern but you cannot start thinking about it. It can be part of your strategy only if you have already qualified, which is not our case."
Midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who picked up a knock in Friday's 2-0 win against Ukraine, is "100 per cent fit", according to Blanc, who will not be complacent against Sweden.
"There is always the risk to lose focus when you win a game," he said.
"It's up to us to be serious in the build-up to the game and keep our eye on the prize. There was joy and satisfaction after the Ukraine game but we told the players to quickly focus again.
"Sweden will play to win. Let's not under-estimate them. If the players were tempted to underestimate them, the technical would make sure it does not happen."
Captain Hugo Lloris said France would not take their opponents' lightly.
"You always have to be careful against a team who are already eliminated," he said.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot)
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