France look to keep building after Euro 2012 qualification

Julien Pretot
France's Eric Abidal reacts with teammate after drawing with Bosnia to qualify to the Euro 2012 championship at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis

PARIS (Reuters) - France got the point they needed to ensure qualification for Euro 2012 against a hard-working Bosnia side Tuesday but Laurent Blanc's team know they will need further improvement to make an impression at next year's finals.

The French have struggled since following up their World Cup victory on home soil in 1998 with the European crown two years later and although those dominant days are a thing of the past, the current crop are proving a tough side to beat.

Trailing to a sublime Edin Dzeko strike, France can thank the Bosnian hitman's Manchester City team mate Samir Nasri for converting a second half penalty that booked the side's ticket to the finals and extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games.

"We want to stay invincible as long as possible," Valencia centre back Adil Rami told reporters after Tuesday's win.

"Our 15-game unbeaten run is great for confidence. This is a statistic that we need to use to help us grow."

Blanc is hoping to line up a couple of friendlies next month before France's championship credentials are given a thorough test against a German side that won all 10 of their qualifying games in Bremen next February.

"We will play games with nothing at stake against top teams so it will be the opportunity to develop our play," Blanc said.

Last year, France were completely outplayed by Spain at the Stade de France, losing 2-0 in a friendly that sowed the seeds for a disastrous World Cup, where they were knocked out in the first round and were torn apart by off-field controversies.

"That scar will never go away because there will always be someone, a blogger, reporters, who will talk about it and because the players involved will never forget," added Blanc, who will hope inject some new blood before the finals.

"We will certainly give playing time to those we have not seen much yet," he said.

Midfielder Nasri, meanwhile, is hoping France will use those games to "grow as a team."

"When you look at the best teams -- Germany and Spain -- you see that they have been playing together for a long time and that's what we need if we are to compete at the highest level," he said.

"That's what we must work on, grow as a team, because otherwise, we have the players we need, we all play at the biggest clubs."

Defender Eric Abidal believes France can ill-afford a repeat of the first half against Bosnia at next year's finals or their stay in Poland and Ukraine could be a short one.

"If we have a 45-minute lapse like that at Euro, we will pay dearly for it," the Barcelona player said.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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