Nasri facing the chop against Spain following France bust-up
France coach Laurent Blanc is considering dropping Samir Nasri for Saturday's crunch quarter-final with Spain following a bust-up between several of his senior players that threatens to undermine his side's Euro 2012 prospects, Goal.com understands.
The Manchester City midfielder was an influential force in Les Bleus' opening two matches of the competition, but was involved in a heated confrontation with Alou Diarra, who criticised Nasri for failing to do his share of defensive work after the damaging defeat against Sweden on Tuesday.
Despite Nasri's importance to the side, Blanc is contemplating whether or not to relegate the 24-year-old to the substitutes' bench, making a strong statement to the potential troublemakers in his squad, and quelling the possibility of a repeat of the unseemly way France's 2010 World Cup campaign unravelled.
Midfield powerhouse Yann M'Vila has recovered from the ankle sprain that ruled him out of France's tournament opener against England, while Blanc waxed lyrical about Newcastle schemer Yohan Cabaye in his pre-match press conference on Friday, and suggested he would opt for a sturdier midfield against the reigning world and European champions.
"Whoever plays for Spain, we know where their strengths are, we've studied them very well. We know that Spain have a very unique playing style and have dominated for four years. Everyone tries to stop them and there are some sides who have been able to bore them," he said.
"Italy in their first game were incredibly solid and exceptionally strong at the back. We will need to demonstrate this tomorrow and if we don't have these two qualities we will make life hard for ourselves. Some teams don't have a chance to win against Spain, but Croatia had an opportunity and showed lots of solidarity.
"Of course we will make changes due to certain factors we can't affect – Philippe Mexes is suspended. I usually say we have to try to adapt as little as possible to our opponents, but here we will come up against a great side with a very specific playing style."
Talk of adapting to Spain's methods was a key theme during Blanc's press conference, and it looks as though Nasri will pay the price for his tempestuous reaction to Diarra's complaints.
Already in this tournament the former Arsenal man has been involved in an ugly spat with the French press when he raised a finger to his lips in response to some mild written criticism of his performances.
And with Blanc requiring discipline and defensive diligence in order to counter Spain's tiki-taka, possession-orientated playing style, the 46-year-old is prepared to sacrifice one his most prominent attacking players.
"I know the Spanish well," he added. "They are based around the Barcelona side. It's not that we want to invent a strategy because nobody has found one against them.
"The problem against Spain is to decide when do you adapt? It's all about when they have the ball, the problem is they have 65 per cent of it.
"In that other third you must develop your own style and play to your strengths. The problem is they get the ball and don't give it back. You can always come up with things like telling the full-backs not to go forward, but they'll end up playing by the corner flag."
Whatever the personnel, however, Blanc knows his side cannot afford a repeat of the lacklustre display against Sweden which means his side are preparing for the toughest possible assignment, rather than the comparatively easier task of facing Italy in Kiev on Sunday.
"We saw against Sweden what was negative. At one stage Sweden played for pride and were the better in the team respect. That's what we can't accept and the players were aware after the game, that's why people were very worked up and angry, everyone needs to play well," he concluded.