DONETSK, Ukraine, June 8 – French playmaker Franck Ribery says he and his team-mates are going to approach their opening Euro 2012 clash with old foes England calmly and not overdo their preparations.
The 29-year-old Bayern Munich star – who is competing at his fourth major finals – said there was no point planning their strategy to Monday’s game to such an extent they felt they had already played the game by the time kick-off arrived.
“We have some players who play in England and they know the English players well,” said Ribery.
“On Wednesday, I watched their friendly match against Belgium (a 1-0 win last Saturday) while having a massage.
“They defend really well and play on the counter attack. Up front they have either Andy Carroll or Danny Welbeck, who are two vastly different players.
“One (Welbeck) is more at ease on the ball, who likes to dribble and the other (Carroll) is more robust and physical.
“We will certainly do our homework on them. There are still a few days to go but we are going to approach this match calmly. There is no point in playing the game before it has even taken place as that would place unwanted pressure on us.”
Ribery, who came to the fore when he was at Marseille from 2005-07 after an unspectacular early career, accepted that he was now one of the senior players and a lot more responsibility fell on him.
He has not always been appreciated by French crowds and been booed on several occasions – his role in the 2010 World Cup debacle did not boost his popularity and neither did revelations about the supposedly happy family man having sex with a prostitute.
However, he feels a page has been turned since he scored his first goal for the national side in almost three years against Iceland in a warm-up match last month.
“It is true that everyone was waiting for this goal and it has done me an enormous amount of good,” he said.
“The spectators that night gave me a lot of confidence and desire for the other two warm-up matches (he scored in those as well against Serbia and Estonia).
“The coach (Laurent Blanc) always believed in me and we talked a lot together with his assistant as well. They even flew to Munich to chat to me and that was a huge boost.
“At one point it was quite heavy for them because there was no other topic being discussed apart from me.
“I am delighted to have their confidence. I am now part of the veterans of the team. I have a heavy responsibility.”
However, despite Ribery feeling a page has been turned the scars of the 2010 World Cup are still there.
Ribery had a sense of humour failure when he was asked what he thought of UEFA president Michel Platini’s joke that France could win the Euro 2012 title if they got off the bus.
Platini’s remark at his press conference on Wednesday was in reference to the squad going on strike in protest at the expulsion of Nicolas Anelka and stayed on the bus instead of going through with a training session.
However, Ribery, who was one of the senior players in that squad, evidently did not find the remark amusing and even less so to be asked his reaction to it.
“You think I want to answer that question?,” he replied frowning at the questioner.
“I have no desire to answer this question.”