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Athletic Bilbao
6:00 PM UTC
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8:05 PM UTC
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1:00 AM UTC Feb 24, 2017
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'Zero risk' of French squad trouble repeat

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has told RMC there is "zero risk" of the current France squad repeating the controversies of previous tournaments.

- Johnson: The French are contenders
- Torre: France form foretells deep run

French football's image suffered a major blow when the entire squad went on strike in Knysna four years ago in protest at Nicolas Anelka's exclusion from the squad, and individual misdemeanors from the likes of Samir Nasri and Hatem ben Arfa at EURO 2012 only damaged Les Bleus' reputation still further.

Coach Didier Deschamps intimated Nasri had been left out of his selection for Brazil as a consequence of the negative effect the Manchester City man may have on the squad should he not play regularly, and with other reputed 'problem players' also not included, Le Graet, 72, is confident his nation will leave a good impression both on and off the pitch.

The optimistic mood is a far cry from the immediate aftermath of the first-leg of their play-off with Ukraine in November when, following a 2-0 defeat in Kiev, French dreams of being in Brazil looked all but over.

The French squad are united after two barnstorming victories in their first two group games.

A stirring 3-0 second-leg win in Paris clinched their place in the final tournament, however, and Le Graet charts their current success back to that heady night at the Stade de France.

"Something happened against Ukraine. There was a sea change for the players, the fans, for everyone. This is a young team. It took time to put it in place, but Didier has built a team that goes well together on the pitch and off it. They are relatively inexperienced, the players have few international matches between them, but this team surprised me against Switzerland.

"To score five goals was almost too good. In any case, we have to be careful, because it is perhaps a little too good. I'm not surprised they're doing well, but they are perhaps moving forward a little more quickly than I would have imagined."


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