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  • 29 March 2011
  • • 20:00
  • • Stade de France, Paris
  • Referee: A. Kelly

France 0-0 Croatia: Blanc's side frustrated by resilient visitors

France 0-0 Croatia: Blanc's side frustrated by resilient visitors


France couldn't find a way past a solid Croatia at the Stade de France, as they were made to rue missed chances once again

France played out a frustrating 0-0 draw with Croatia at the Stade de France tonight with neither side able to convert good chances coming their way.

With Yoann Gourcuff, Loic Remy and Adil Rami spurning late chances to nudge France ahead, the main culprit was Karim Benzema who wasted a brilliant chance to put Les Bleus ahead in the 37th minute, by spectacularly blazing the ball over from three yards.

Croatia had their chances too, with Hugo Lloris forced into a double save to deny Ivan Perisic and Darijo Srna.

The result however was deserved for Slaven Bilic's men who thwarted the hosts on countless occasions.

The first offensive endeavour of the match came in favour of the hosts on 18 minutes when Alou Diarra released Anthony Revelliere with a superb drilled pass on the right, but the Lyon man’s progress was halted by a questionable flag from the assistant referee.

France continued to up their attacking tempo with Diarra prompting a good move, providing for the influential Jeremy Menez, but the pull-back failed to find any targets.

Blaise Matuidi then stepped up to drive the ball from 30 yards, however the shot failed to threaten Vedran Runje in the Croatian goal.

The visitors were dealt a blow when Danijel Pranjic was forced off with an injury midway through the first half, but France had by then found their stride with Rami latching onto Samir Nasri’s cross and his header agonisingly flashed wide off the post.

Menez was unrelenting in posing problems for the Croats, and one of his mazy runs on the right channel was impeded by Dejan Lovren, who subsequently earned a yellow card.

The hosts should have been 1-0 ahead on 37 minutes when Benzema set Nasri on his way.

The playmaker then fed the ball into Menez, whose pull back evaded Lovren and fell to Benzema but his shot failed to trouble Runje, with the frustration clearly etched on the Real Madrid striker's face.

It was the visitors turn to pass up a wonderful chance, with Ivan Perisic leaving Phillipe Mexes for dead on the right with a burst of pace, and Hugo Lloris did well firstly to claw the ball away from goal, and then pull off a second save moments later to deny Darijo Srna’s as Croatia looked to impose their authority on the match.

The second period commenced in hostile settings with flares launched onto the pitch at the Stade de France.

Bilic made further changes to his team, substituting Runje who had succumbed to an injury with Stipe Pletikosa his replacement.

Ivan Rakitic replaced Ivan Strinic and the Sevilla man almost made an instant impact after a horror pass by Rami in the corner led to the Croatian striking powerfully into the side-netting, as half of the crowd mistakenly thought he had broken the deadlock.

What Benzema had lacked in finishing quality, he more than made up in carving opportunities for his team-mates as he burst through the field to lay off Menez, whose deflected attempt was easily dealt with.

Franck Ribery, who earned his 50th cap tonight amidst jeers from the home faithful set Nasri through, after he span away from a defender, but could only muster a corner for his efforts.

After Laurent Blanc had lambasted his forwards for not killing off teams with a lack of attacking panache, it was evident here tonight that he would be left a frustrated figure.

Rami curled a right footed shot towards goal, but Unluckily for him, he could only hit the post after creating the chance by skipping away from the defender.

The momentum had been with the hosts as the game neared its conclusion.

However, a beautiful lofted ball by Luka Modric saw Rakitic clean through, but he was denied by an alert Lloris who rushed to claim the ball.

A final chance to win the game came at the feet of Loic Remy, five minutes from time, as he brilliantly pulled down a high ball but the Marseille forward’s touch had let him down to allow Pletikosa time to smother the ball and complete a frustrating night for France.

Gourcuff, on as a sub, nearly took advantage of a ball that bounced kindly for him in injury time, but he could not direct his effort home.

At the death, Rami produced an ambitious overhead kick which left the Lille defender in some serious discomfort.

In the end a deserved draw for Croatia means they maintain a three-year record of not losing in a friendly.

France now entertain Belarus on June 2 in a Euro 2012 qualifier, seeking revenge for their only defeat in qualifying thus far.

They then look forward to a double header friendly against co-hosts Poland and Ukraine in June. 

Slaven Bilic’s men tackle Georgia, whom they lost to last weekend on June 3 in qualifying.

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