The France coach, Laurent Blanc, has expressed doubts over England's ability to win Euro 2012 playing an unambitious and defensively oriented style of football, but does not anticipate Roy Hodgson tweaking his approach even when Wayne Rooney returns from suspension.
Les Bleus extended their unbeaten run to 22 matches with the draw in Donetsk on Monday but were left frustrated by England's tactics, with the Manchester United full-back Patrice Evra suggesting they were similar to those employed by Chelsea to stifle Barcelona en route to the Champions League final last month. Blanc expects a more open occasion against the co-hosts Ukraine on Friday having been unimpressed by suggestions back home that his own side had lacked adventure at the Donbass Arena.
"If the French fans are disappointed with the way we played, saying we lacked ambition … well, if the French team lacked ambition, what should we say about the English then?" he said. "The England team's tactics didn't surprise us. We knew they would play this way, and that they are good on the break. But we controlled the game for 70 minutes and the other 20 minutes, that were England's, were down to our own weakness.
"England were missing a key player in Wayne Rooney, and they won't have him for their second game [against Sweden in Kiev on Friday], but I don't think they'll change the way they play in this tournament. In football, you can win games this way. Over the duration of a tournament, however, you have to show some attacking ambition. You can tell me the opposite, citing the example of Greece who won Euro 2004 by playing collectively and with defensive rigour, and with Angelos Charisteas scoring a lot of goals …"
The implication was that he considered the Greek success eight years ago as the exception to prove the rule, with Blanc adamant the lack of space permitted to his players by England had ensured the game in Donetsk had been an ugly affair. "For the beauty of football it's better to watch an open game than a closed game," he said. "I hope Ukraine will have that mentality. They won their first match and they'll probably be qualified if they win their second, so I hope they will take risks.
"For a good game to happen, you have to have action, you have to have space. With the weather conditions, the English were very, very, very tired after the game, I spoke to a couple of them afterwards. We held the ball for 13 or 14 minutes more than them, so they ran around more than us. When I see how tired our players were, I can't imagine how tired the English were. But we will keep playing our own way. We won't change our philosophy, just as I don't think the English will. Our fans were expecting something more, but I hope they'll be happier in the second game."