Eric Abidal wants more competition in team _ even if he loses place to Evra at Euro 2008

  1931

Eric Abidal wants greater competition for places in the French national team, even if it means losing his left back spot to Patrice Evra at the European Championship.
Abidal has been first choice in coach Raymond Domenech since the 2006 World Cup, but Evra's form for Manchester United this season is putting his place increasingly under pressure.
"I have known (Evra's) qualities for a long time," Abidal said. "It's a good pressure. I am in favor of competition (for places), it helps a team grow. If there was the same competition in every position, that would be huge."
Like many other of France's players, Abidal was some way short of his best in Monday's 0-0 draw against Romania in Zurich. Domenech is now under pressure to get a win against the Netherlands on Friday in Berne, and that could mean some changes.
Domenech said Wednesday that he is reviewing "four positions" against the Dutch.
Abidal is among those whose place could be under threat, along with right back Willy Sagnol, left winger Florent Malouda and striker Nicolas Anelka.
"As long as you give everything on the field, there is no problem," Abidal said. "You have to accept the coach's choice. When I first arrived, I was not first choice. I worked hard, I played. (Evra) is (also) here to play."
Abidal, who has played 36 times for France would have no animosity if dropped for Evra, who helped Man United win the Premier League and Champions League.
"It would not upset me," Abidal said. "I am never satisfied, you can always do better."
The French team heads into Friday's match against a free-flowing Dutch side brimming with confidence after beating World Cup winner Italy 3-0.
By contrast, France's pragmatic approach against a disciplined Romania team was considered negative by many observers.
Opinion among the players appears seems divided, with defender William Gallas saying the team was too cautious and Abidal insisting Domenech got the tactics right against a patient Romania team poised to strike on the break.
"Attacking for the sake of attacking serves no purpose," Abidal said. "If I moved up the wing, they could counter us."
However, there was little interaction down France's left flank between Abidal and Malouda, prompting some critics to call for Evra, who is more attack-orientated, to replace Abidal, and for Samir Nasri to drift over to take Malouda's spot.
The 20-year-old Nasri was impressive when he came on for the final 12 minutes against Romania, with the playmaker sparking some energy into the listless French attack.
But Abidal still thinks he can rekindle his understanding with Malouda at Euro 2008. The pair played for several seasons with French champion Lyon before Abidal left for FC Barcelona and Malouda went to Chelsea.
"We have been separated for a year, I had him in front of me for three years at Lyon," Abidal said. "Then he went to Chelsea, where he found a different style, as I did at Barcelona. It doesn't mean that our understanding has gone."