DONETSK, June 14 (Reuters) - Ukraine head coach Oleg Blokhin says he doesn’t expect Friday’s opponents France to throw more players forward than they did in their opening draw with England.
With just a point to their name, Laurent Blanc’s team will be keen to get their first win under their belt but Blokhin doesn’t buy the idea that the need for three points will translate into a more open approach from the French.
“I don’t know why the group table should force French players to play attacking, I think even if they lose or draw they will have another chance to win,” he said.
“I don’t think they will be so attacking - their midfielders and strikers create the chance for them to play their style.”
Blokhin, whose team beat Sweden in their opening game, believes the high temperatures in Eastern Ukraine will also force a circumspect approach.
“To play attacking football for 90 minutes, to play pressing football in this heat, will be hard,” he said.
Midfielder Samir Nasri was at the centre of much of France’s creative play in the 1-1 draw with England, scoring the first half equaliser and prompting many of the attacks.
Asked if he planned to man-mark Nasri, Blokhin said that would be a difficult approach to take.
”I don’t know where he will play. In the middle or the right wing? It is difficult to choose (a man marker) because he changes his position.
“He is a great player but I don’t have 11 defenders in my team,” he said.
Blokhin also suggested that Blanc’s talking down of France’s status in the group, due to their position in FIFA’s world rankings and performance at the World Cup two years ago, was mind-games.
“England and France are the leaders of world football, if Blanc says France is an outsider he is lying a little bit, they have great players and talented youngsters,” he said. (Reporting by Simon Evans; editing by Patrick Graham)