Blanc seeks new chapter

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LONDON, November 16- France coach Laurent Blanc said Tuesday he would be looking for "a strong sign" from his team that they have turned the page on a disastrous year during their midweek friendly against England at Wembley.

France have had a rollercoaster year following their catastrophic World Cup campaign which was capped by a players’ strike and an early exit.

Asked if he was looking to Wednesday’s game to end the season on a high, Blanc said: "You can see things like that. We’re going to try to be competitive, to win the match.

"A lot of you want to see what the France team can achieve against England. I’m in the same boat as you.

"There isn’t the pressure for a result because it’s not a competition game but it will be a prestige match. I prefer to assess the current season more than the year."

Blanc said that the England match was the higest-profile they have had since South Africa.

"It will be quality opposition, the best team that we’ve had to play since August," he said.

"I want to receive a strong sign from the team, to see how they behave under such circumstances.

"Through the collective effort, individual performances will be analysed … and they can show the coach that they have an international level.

"The English are ranked above us in the FIFA standings, they are among the top ten European teams and measuring ourselves against them will be interesting."

"I thought that England had the ability to go further in the World Cup. Even if the match against the Germans was difficult, there was a piece of play which went against England," said Blanc in allusion to Frank Lampard’s ‘goal’ which was not given despite clearly crossing the line.

"Without that I’m not certain that they wouldn’t have gone further."

Blanc believes the team has progressed since he took over from Raymond Domenech after the World Cup.

"They’ve progressed collectively, notably in the defensive domain," he said.

"For the past three matches, even if there are still things to sort our, we’re satisfied. Other areas can be improved – the attack, the offensive game – we still don’t have the efficiency that we should have."

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