France must stop leaking early goals, says Malouda

By Patrick Vignal

SAINT-PIERRE, Reunion (Reuters) - France must get out of the habit of conceding early goals when they get to the World Cup, midfielder Florent Malouda said Thursday.

Les Bleus trailed early in their first two warm-up games, a 2-1 win over Costa Rica and a 1-1 draw in Tunisia.

"Conceding a goal in the opening stages is harmful at a major event," Malouda told reporters at the team's training camp on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion.

"The basis for any strong team is not to concede any goals," added the Chelsea player, who knows France relied on watertight back fours in their winning campaigns at the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship.

"In the games that really matter you must avoid hurting your chances by conceding a goal in the first 15 minutes."

"What we need to do is correct the mistakes from our first two (warm-ups) to boost our morale before starting the World Cup," Malouda said.

"Good communications are the key to good defending and that's an issue we must address," added Malouda.


France, who made an early exit from Euro 2008 and have frustrated their fans with dull performances since, have switched to a 4-3-3 system for their last two games with one holding midfielder instead of the usual two.

"I don't think it's because of the new system that we conceded goals," said Malouda. "The real problem was poor communication."

Since shelving their cautious 4-2-3-1 formation, France have looked shaky at the back at times but at least they signaled their intention to play a more exciting game.

"We scored in each of those two matches," said Malouda. "As long as we keep winning our matches we'll be doing the right thing."

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)