Speaking at OM Star Club on Friday, five former OM stars shared their opinions on the current France squad's chances at Euro 2012...
Optimistic is the best way to describe Daniel Xuereb, Ludovic Asuar, Pierre Issa, Frédéric Brando and Lamine Sakho, who after some great memories playing for OM, are hoping Les Bleus can do likewise!
For 'Fred' Brando, Les Bleus are in a "tough group, but the other teams must be saying the same thing about having France in there." "Especially with Les Bleus getting better and better with each friendly outing," added Pierre Issa, who also stressed they "can't afford to lose the opening game against England which will be a tense affair given how many Premier League players there are in both sides." Daniel Xuereb echoed the sentiments: "England, who everyone is writing off, are still a big team and have that fighting spirit - they won't give in easily."
Nothing is impossible, but can we really hope for a third Euro crown after 1984 and 2000? "We have certain strengths, that is: attacking," declared Monsieur Xu, Ligue 1 champion in 1992, before adding: "But we have to lock things down at the back because my only worry, the central defence, is a little slow and against the big team who are quick up front, we will suffer." "With great players such as Nasri and Benzema, playing for Europe's biggest clubs, that can go all the way," explained Sakho.
"The French prefer to be outsiders rather than favourites," highlighted Asuar. Issa, former 1998 Bafana Bafana defender confirmed: "That's what happened in 1998 where France weren't favourites, but went all the way, and completely different to 2002 and 2010 when they were among the top teams."
Former France U21 international, Ludo Asuar knows that anything can happen at international level and all ambitions are permitted: "It's an honour to play for France. We aren't all that lucky. When you do get that call, you lift yourself to defend those values."
The former OM players all hope that Mathieu Valbuena will get his chance… For Sakho, 'Petit Vélo' is "a player difficult to mark and played very well all season." According to Asuar, he has the international pedigree: "He proved it against Germany. It's up to him to win his place in the side, like when he was on the bench at OM." Brando, who would have added Rio Mavuba in his 23-man squad agrees.
The former OM stars will be carefully watching Les Bleus. But have they forgotten Knysna? "We've all made mistakes. That was a big one, but they were punished. Now we need to look to the future with this new squad," explained Xuereb. Pierre Issa will also be backing Les Bleus. "Especially my former teammates, such as Laurent Blanc, and the current OM players." Lets hope that, like 1998, the South African will see his OM mates lift the top prize...