Lievremont admits Italy can win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lievremont admits Italy can win

Barnaby Chesterman 12/03/2011 02:06:57 AM Comments (0)

France rugby coach Marc Lievremont admitted on Friday that one day his side will finally lose to Italy in the Six Nations.

The teams clash at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday with the visitors having won all 11 previous contests in the competition.

In fact, in 32 encounters, Italy have won only once, back in 1997 in a friendly match.

But Lievremont admits that, just as with Argentina over the past 10 years, the time will come when a victory over Italy can no longer be taken for granted.

"We've had a long series of wins against Italy but all runs come to an end. We just hope that doesn't happen tomorrow," he said.

"We've always prepared well and won against the so-called weaker sides and I hope that continues tomorrow. But Italy are very similar to another team we know well and that's Argentina.

"We dominated Argentina for a long time until the end of the 1990s and then in the 2000s, particularly towards the end of the 2000s, this trend was turned on its head.

"Like Italy, Argentina have a lot players playing in other leagues and we know them well.

"They're a band of grinders, which I mean in the nicest possible way, and they have some talented players, they're improving and that's why we're wary."

France's 17-9 defeat by England two weeks ago means they have to win their last two matches and hope Martin Johnson's team slip up against either Scotland or Ireland if they are to win the championship.

But with England having thrashed Italy 59-13, they would also need to rack up a heavy score in at least one of their final two games.

"There's an element of truth in that. Our destiny is not in our hands but those of others, but first we have to think about winning," said Lievremont.

"We expect to win before we can think about how well we're going to play.

"We lost in England and that's compromised our chance of winning the tournament but first and foremost we have to win. If we can play well, then even better.

"Like all rugby games, it's important to start well. Both teams played well last time but both lost."

A lot has been made of Lievremont's choice of Sebastien Chabal at No.8 instead of the dropped Imanol Harinordoquy but captain and flanker Thierry Dusautoir played down the significance of that selection.

"It's a strategic choice by the coaches and by Marc. We worked all week with that back row and we played together against Argentina in the autumn so it's no problem," he said.

Icon Chabal came in for heavy criticism following the England defeat whereas Harinordoquy is considered one of the best in the world in his position.

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