France team praises quality of Donbass Arena field
France coach Laurent Blanc praised the Donbass Arena’s playing
surface for withstanding a torrential downpour in Friday’s
storm-delayed European Championship match against Ukraine.
Friday’s match, which France won 2-0 to move top of Group D, was
suspended after just five minutes when a thunderstorm broke over
the stadium and forced the players to scurry into the tunnel as
torrential rain poured down and lightning flashed in the night
When the players came back out nearly an hour later, the ground
staff had done well to drain much of the water away.
”I wasn’t scared of the thunder or lightning, but I was scared
the game would be postponed because the pitch wouldn’t be in good
enough condition to start the game again,” Blanc said Saturday.
”To my surprise, the pitch was in good shape an hour later, and we
were able to play a good game.”
The day before the match, Blanc had complained about the blazing
heat in Donetsk, saying it was more difficult for teams playing
early in the evening to attack with as much energy and commitment
as those kicking off at night.
Temperatures hit 33 C (91 F) for the opening game in Group D
between France and England at the Donbass Arena on Monday. France
pushed back its final training session by several hours on Thursday
to avoid the late-afternoon sun.
Friday’s deluge took Blanc completely by surprise.
”We hadn’t prepared anything for this,” he said. ”The
Ukrainians didn’t want to water the pitch before the match, and
they were proved right.”
Players from both teams faced an agonizing wait as officials
decided whether to resume the match.
”When there’s a break like that, you have to keep your
concentration because the match can restart at any time,” France
midfielder Yann M’Vila said. ”You have to stay warm and make sure
your muscles don’t get cold.”
Left back Gael Clichy says the players were relieved the game
was not postponed.
”It felt quite strange, we thought maybe we would play the next
morning. I think the organizers made the right decision,” Clichy
said. ”During the break there was lots of laughter in the dressing
room, a few jokes. It took a bit of the pressure off.”