Nasri out to turn page on France disappointments
After being cast as a scapegoat for France's dismal showing at Euro 2008 and missing out on a place at the 2010 World Cup, Samir Nasri has told AFP that he is determined to leave his mark on Euro 2012.
The Manchester City midfielder was cast as a troublemaker in the French press during France's limp group-stage exit at Euro 2008, but he says he did not deserve to be blamed for what happened in Austria and Switzerland.
"The generational problems were a false excuse to hide the failings on the pitch," he told AFP on Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday's friendly with Germany in Bremen.
"It was easy to say that the youngsters were the problem. In a long tournament, it's important to have team spirit. Today, the staff are very close to the players and try to live with them. That wasn't the case before.
"Everyone has their own methods. (Former coach Raymond) Domenech was more distant and he only spoke to certain players.
"We've started from scratch and all of that is far behind us. The horizon is very clear. It's better to look forward."
Under Domenech's successor, Laurent Blanc, Nasri has become a first-team player and it was his penalty in October's 1-1 draw at home to Bosnia-Herzegovina that secured France's place at this summer's tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
"A nucleus has been created with the same 16 or 17 players and at the moment, I'm a part of that," he said.
"It would be presumptuous to say that I'll go to the Euro because you never know what will happen, but it does you good.
"Before, there was lots of uncertainty. I had to watch the TV to find out if I'd been called up. Now, the coach lets us know beforehand.
"We're more relaxed and we arrive with the desire to do well and to fight for him."
Tensions arose between Nasri and Blanc last autumn after the former Arsenal man responded to the coach's public criticism of his performances by telling France Football magazine that he would rather be told "face to face".
Nasri insists, however, that despite a spate of eye-catching newspaper headlines at the time, the hatchet has been buried.
"After that famous interview (with France Football), he waited for me at the start of the next training camp with his assistant and he told him: 'You see, now Samir's started talking in the media.'
"We had a conversation that lasted five seconds and it was sorted out."
France have been drawn alongside England, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine in Group D at Euro 2012 and Blanc has set a quarter-final place as the minimum requirement.
After the disappointment of Euro 2008 and the trauma of the 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa, Nasri says the time has come for the national team to recapture the hearts of the country's fans.
"Personally, I'm not aiming for much," he said when asked about his ambitions for the summer. "I hope that we shine collectively. We need to repair the image of Les Bleus after two catastrophic campaigns.
"We're not going there to go sight-seeing. And it's good to be cast as an outsider that no-one is expecting anything from.
"We have a young team but there are also points in our favour. We need to be ambitious. In friendlies against high-profile teams, we've seen that we've been able to raise our level. It augurs well for June.
"When you play for France, you owe it to yourself to reach the quarter-finals. It's the minimum. And even though it's a quality group, you have to admit that it could have been worse."
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