History shows that France often struggle in qualifying: Deschamps, Latest Football News - The New Paper

History shows that France often struggle in qualifying: Deschamps

Les Bleus coach Deschamps tempers expectations despite straightforward Euro 2020 qualifying group

France might have been drawn in a supposedly easy Euro 2020 qualifying group, but coach Didier Deschamps insisted they will take nothing for granted when they start their campaign against Moldova on Saturday morning (Singapore time).

The world champions were drawn in Group H with Moldova, Iceland, Albania, Turkey and Andorra.

"History shows that France have often struggled in qualifying campaigns," said Deschamps yesterday.

Les Bleus are likely to face very defence-minded sides as they are the overwhelming favourites to top the group.

"They will likely sit back, even if they can attack. We will have very little space, we have already faced that kind of opposition," added Deschamps, who led France to the 2016 European Championship final and the World Cup title two years later in Russia.

"We will have to be precise and lively. But it is never simple and we know it.

"We know what to expect. It's not the ideal game for us."

After their trip to Chisinau, France will host Iceland next Tuesday morning in Paris in a repeat of their Euro 2016 quarter-final, which Les Bleus won 5-2.

With most of his players having been involved in domestic duties last Sunday, Deschamps has little time to prepare.

"We are used to it. Today and tomorrow will be for recuperation mostly and then we will have two days to get ready," he said.

Saturday's opposition Moldova are ranked 170th in the world and haven't won a competitive match - other than a pair Nations League victories over San Marino last year - since 2013.

France, meanwhile, are boosted by the return of Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman to the squad for the first time since November 2017, following a raft of injury problems.

"He had a serious injury, and a succession of injuries which slowed him down," said Deschamps.

"He's been an important player for Bayern Munich this season."

Coman played six of seven matches, including 62 minutes of the final, as France finished runners-up to Portugal on home soil at Euro 2016.

However, the 22-year-old has featured just four times for his country since the 1-0 extra-time loss at the Stade de France.

Said Deschamps: "He was unlucky ahead of the World Cup because he had this serious injury, but it's been a while since Kingsley has been with us.

"He proved at Euro 2016 what he is capable of."

Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic said France star Paul Pogba has the potential to be the best midfielder in the world.

The former Sweden striker told the Daily Mirror: "I think Pogba has the potential to be the best player in the world in his position.

"He is a good guy, he trains hard, he listens, he wants to become better, he wants to win.

"He want to perform in every game.

"Things happening outside do not really bother him because when you are at that level, everyone will speak.

"Positive, negative, in between, everybody."

The former United striker also hit out at the Class of '92's past criticism of Pogba.

He said: "With Pogba, he was with United when he was young, then he went out and he came back.

"And in the circle of (Sir Alex) Ferguson, they don't like that.

"Because they stayed all their life under Ferguson and they never moved from Ferguson.

"And they didn't even talk if Ferguson didn't tell them to open their mouth.

"So, now if they are talking, I don't know whether Ferguson gave them permission or not."

Class of '92 graduate Ryan Giggs has since hit back at Ibrahimovic.

He said: "When you play over 3,000 games between us, we're going to have an opinion.

"Sometimes positive and sometimes negative, but I don't think that has any bearing on results.

"We're supporters of the club together with other ex-players who are on TV or radio - that's what football is about, having different opinions.

"But obviously he knows more about the club than us." - AFP, REUTERS