Sweden vs. France: Players Who Must Step Up to Send Les Bleus to Quarterfinals

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIJune 18, 2012

DONETSK, UKRAINE - JUNE 15:  Franck Ribery of France in action during the UEFA EURO 2012 group D match between Ukraine and France at Donbass Arena on June 15, 2012 in Donetsk, Ukraine.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Tuesday's match between France and Sweden is a tale of two sides playing for different reasons.

Sweden is playing for nothing but pride after losing 2-1 to Ukraine in the opening match and 3-2 to England last time out. Erik Hamren's boys will be looking to grab at least one point in this contest after collecting a grand total of zero in their first two matches.

France should have an easy time with the Swedes.

It wouldn't come as a shock if the blue and yellow role over for Les Bleus early on with no consequences at stake. But, you never know in the game of football, so the French need a few players to step up if they want to advance to the quarterfinals.

Here are three of those players.

Samir Nasri

The 24-year-old midfielder is one of the main pieces that will contribute to French success in the future, but he needs to establish himself in the now if the French are to advance to the knockout stage of the 2012 European Championship.

He's had an impact in the tournament, most notably in the form of his tally against England in his teams first game of group play. But Laurent Blanc won't need him to be the finisher on Tuesday against the Swedes.

One of Nasri's real strengths is his ability to make precision passes that many players wouldn't be able to. If he can facilitate the French attack in the offensive third, the next player on this list will have a much easier time finding the back of the net.

Franck Ribéry

Ribéry and Nasri have to work together to find some space in the Swedish back line. If Nasri can mosey into the attacking zone with the ball and find Ribéry on a run with a through ball, the French will have no problem coming away with a win.

The better the two work together on Tuesday, the better chance their side has of getting out of group play.

The 29-year-old Bayern Munich footballer seldom has the ball taken from him once he firmly possesses it, and should be able to toy with the subpar Sweden defense if Nasri can find him anywhere near the box.

Even if he can't get inside the box with the ball, look for Ribéry to try his luck on some long range shots to carry the French in their quest to advance.

Karim Benzema

Benzema is yet another midfielder that makes the French middle third so dangerous to play against. He needs to be the catalyst when it comes to starting counterattacks that start in the defensive zone.

All three players on this list are adept passers and Sweden will find it hard to put a stop to that. The French offense needs to run through its midfielders if there is hope of advancing.

Benzema is perhaps the best assist man of the three. The 24-year-old has two helpers in this 2012 European Championship and a couple more are certainly not out of the question in this upcoming match.

Look for this prolific trio to lead Les Bleus to a win and a berth in the quarterfinal.