Alou Diarra: We gave Spain too much respect

The France midfielder admitted that the defensive tactics employed by les Bleus coach Laurent Blanc did not test Vicente del Bosque's side enough in Saturday's quarter-final
 By James Goldman
 In Donetsk



France midfielder Alou Diarra admitted his side paid Spain too much respect during their lacklustre Euro 2012 quarter-final defeat against Spain.

A Xabi Alonso double condemned France to a second consecutive defeat of a tournament that had begun with such promise, arriving as they did on the back of a 21-game unbeaten run.

Laurent Blanc’s side, however, will return to France in only marginally better shape than after the 2010 World Cup - when infighting and a player led revolt left les Bleus in tatters.

And Diarra, who was involved in an altercation with Samir Nasri after the loss against Sweden and subsequently lost his place in the side, admitted Blanc got his tactics wrong against the reigning world and European champions.

Spain 2-0 France

He told “Well, we should obviously consider who were we playing against, a team that is very good at attacking so we needed to be stronger at the back but without forgetting that we needed to attack as well. We needed to find that balance and we didn’t do it in the end.

“It’s a disappointing to be out of the Euros, we played against a team which was better than us, individually and collectively. It’s still a shame because I feel that in the second half there was still a lot to play for and to pose them problems but that's how it goes sometimes."

Despite the shambolic way in which their campaign ended, particularly with Nasri involved in an unseemly confrontation with a journalist, Diarra feels this young team is well placed to build on what it achieved in Ukraine and will have learned valuable lessons ahead of their World Cup qualifying campaign, where they have been drawn alongside Spain in Group I.

He said: “Spain were favourites before the match that’s clear, now, analysing the match there were some moments in the game in which we could have been better, but we lacked sharpness in that last pass, in that last movement and those little details make all the difference at the top level.

“This is a very young team and I’m sure we’ve learned a lot, we are looking forward now for the World Cup qualifiers.”