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Ligue 1 Daily – Blanc calls for more international collusion

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By Ryan Keaney

Wednesday 10 November 2010

France manager Laurent Blanc has called for international sides to be given more time together during a season. With the footballing calendar already full of league, cup and continental competition, the World Cup winner has stated his belief that at times international fixtures are forced to take a backseat to the domestic game.

“Everybody agrees that the national sides must have more importance,” Blanc told Reuters on Tuesday. “There were two competitive (Euro 2012 qualifying) matches in September and it's a good thing because everybody is happy - the fans and the players. In October, there are two more games and people regain interest in the national team, and then we tell them... it's over, the curtain drops as we (don't) play another qualifier until March (2011). So the fans forget about the national team.”

Just last week Blanc called for Ligue 1 to be reduced from 20 teams to 18 and his most recent declaration, a week ahead of the friendly clash with England at Wembley, comes as another sign that the former Girondins Bordeaux coach wants more time with his national squad.

Every year since 1983, Laurent Blanc has been involved in a full European season either as a player, coach or manager and it could be suggested that Blanc is simply not looking forward to a very quiet winter thanks to the part-time nature of international management. "If the system was coherent, national teams should play one or two games every month or every six weeks. I see that we play a friendly game in November - and why just a friendly game and then nothing until March? From November to February, nothing. Why is that?”

The former Barcelona, Internazionale and Manchester United defender also made it clear where he saw the problem in the current calendar; the UEFA Champions League. “I agree the leagues are important, the Cups are important,” before adding, “but you can't have a competition wiping out all the others, especially at the expense of the Euro qualifiers. The Champions League dominates all other competitions and I am not the only one thinking that. It's not only the clubs' fault. It's also UEFA's.”

Having taken over the reins of the French national team following their disastrous exit from the summer’s World Cup, Blanc has turned things around after a slow start. Defeats in his opening two matches against Norway and Belarus have been followed by three consecutive 2-0 wins over Bosnia, Romania and Luxembourg. France currently occupies top spot in Group D of Euro 2012’s qualifying and through his squad selections; Blanc has been starting to build a very pro-Ligue 1 national squad. In his latest squad for the games against Romania and Luxembourg, there were 16 French-based players in the panel of 23.

And despite the barren five months that will follow, Blanc is looking forward to taking his revitalised French squad to London. “We like the English, they like us, but above all, we like beating each other,” before mentioning that he expected neither side to treat the game lightly. “It's not going to be a stroll.”

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