Euro 2012: Yohan Cabaye admits France underperformed against Sweden

• 'Our mentality wasn't right,' says Newcastle midfielder
• Samir Nasri refuses to write of chances of beating Spain

Yohan Cabaye believes France were guilty of "playing like we were already on our holidays" against Sweden, with the Newcastle United midfielder admitting Les Bleus have no chance of beating Spain in the quarter-finals unless they change their mentality and show a dramatic improvement.

Laurent Blanc's side were in pole position to win Group D and avoid Spain in the last eight before the final round of fixtures but Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat by Sweden in Kiev, combined with England's victory over Ukraine, means that France will now face the defending champions in Donetsk on Saturday.

It is a daunting prospect for France. They will be without Philippe Mexès through suspension and will go into the game with their confidence shaken by a poor performance against Sweden, when they were well beaten. "Sweden played really well," said Cabaye, who sat out the game as a precaution because of a slight groin problem but is certain he will be fit to face Spain. "It wasn't like Sweden [played as though they] were already out of the competition and I think we played like we were already on our holidays. It was a mistake. Our mentality wasn't right.

"We have three days to prepare now for our next game and we have made it harder for us. It is going to be difficult. We have to be better but the most important thing is we have to have a better mentality. I hope we learn, we do the right things from now on and we play like a team. We've always played like a team, not like [Tuesday night]. Spain are the best team in the world so we are going to have to play like it is the final. If we play like against Sweden we haven't got any chance of beating Spain. We know this."

The Sweden defeat ended France's long unbeaten run, which stretched 23 matches, although Samir Nasri refused to be downbeat and write off their hopes of causing an upset against Spain. The Manchester City midfielder pointed to the fact that France have never lost to Spain in six competitive matches as a source of encouragement and also spoke of his belief that Vicente del Bosque's side would be easier to play against than a more defensively-minded Italian team.

"I don't think Spain are favourites for the tournament, the Germans have impressed me the most," Nasri said. "Spain and Italy are both hard to play against and, in my opinion, the Italians are harder to play against as they line up with five defenders and three defensive midfielders who push up. Spain like to play football, but France has always done well against the Spanish in a major tournament. We might get more room against the Spanish. But we will have to keep hold of the ball as much as possible because they don't give you it back much."

Nasri also stressed that it was important the French players remembered how far they have come since the debacle at the 2010 World Cup. "Qualifying for the quarter-finals gives us confidence and we will try and cause an upset," he said. "The unbeaten run was anecdotal, it had to end sometime. You can't stay unbeaten forever, and it's better that it happened in a match where we qualified anyway. We were poor in several areas, whether it was in defence or midfield, but we have to lift our heads up now and show that we're a united team.

"I think we just came up against a team who were better than us and played until the final whistle. But maybe we relaxed a bit after beating Ukraine, and without lacking respect to the Ukrainians, it was only Ukraine. Now we have to go back to work and prepare for Spain. The objective was to reach the quarter-finals. If people had said two years ago we would be in the quarter-finals of the European Championship, we would have signed up for that right away. So we can't complain."

comments powered by Disqus