Former France boss Laurent Blanc says top teams will want to avoid 2010 champs Spain in Friday’s World Cup draw.
Blanc, who coached France from 2010 to 2012, saw his hopes of lifting the Euro 2012 title extinguished by La Roja on their way to a second straight Euro crown and third straight international triumph overall.
Spain have been placed in Pot 2 for the upcoming draw, which could see them placed in the same group as the 1998 champions. And Blanc, who counts Julen Lopetegui’s team among the favourites to win it all in Russia next summer, said the two had been grouped together in a previous practise draw.
“We did so many draws, you know. We did four practise draws and I think tomorrow we’ll do one or two more. For your information, in one of the draws, we had France-Spain,” Blanc said.
“Spain is going to be a problem, because they’re in Pot 2. I would think that with Spain and England in Pot 2, there are a lot of teams that will want to avoid them.”
Germany forward Thomas Muller had the same idea while speaking to reporters in Munich on Thursday, saying: “We don’t need to draw Spain or England in the group.”
Meanwhile, Blanc highlighted the draw’s importance for the nations dreaming of winning the competition, and the helplessness a coach feels during the selection process.
“You can’t do anything about it [as a coach]. You just wait,” Blanc said. “You need things to go your way a little bit to win the World Cup and that starts right here, with the draw. Any draw, whether that’s in a World Cup or a Champions League, for example.
“So tomorrow is an important day. One, to know your opponents. But also to start planning, as a coach, to know where you going to play. It’s good to have games close together so that you have as little travel and as much recovery time as possible.”
France are tipped to be one of the top contenders when the tournament kicks off next summer. While Didier Deschamps’ men are no doubt a talented side, their relative youth could prove a stumbling block, says Blanc.
“I think that all of the people I’ve spoken with about France’s potential agree that it’s huge.
Maybe they still lack a little bit of experience and maturity,” he admitted. “It’s true that there are teams — through their results, their experience and their history — that come in as powerful favourites for this World Cup. But I don’t think France is far off.”
Blanc reckoned the usual suspects would vie for the title in the end. But added one surprise pick.
Asked who are his favourites, Blanc said: “I won’t be very original. I would say Brazil, Argentina look very strong from South America. In Europe, Spain and Germany — you can always count on the Germans.
“And I think that the two European sides that maybe would be there, without being called favourites, are Belgium and France. Then maybe some other teams will do big things and create a surprise. But we can’t know that today.”