Football: Champions France 'have lot of respect' for World Cup rivals Denmark

France's coach Didier Deschamps (right) smiles during the draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. PHOTO: AFP

DOHA (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps said the defending champions have “a lot of respect” for Denmark after the teams were drawn in the same World Cup group on Friday (April 1).

“You have to have a lot of respect,” said Deschamps. “They are the 11th-ranked Fifa team, semi-finalists at the Euros and if they are ahead of Germany and the Netherlands, it proves the quality of this team.”

France and Denmark will be familiar rivals as they also meet in the Nations League in June and September before the World Cup starts in November.

“I don’t know if it’s ideal,” said Deschamps. “They too will have the advantage of knowing us even better, even if these two meetings, one in June, one in September in the Nations League, are not the same thing.”

The teams faced other at the 2002 World Cup when Denmark shocked the defending champions 2-0 in South Korea, a defeat which meant an embarrassing first-round exit for the French.

They also met at the 2018 tournament which ended in a drab 0-0 draw in Moscow.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand warned France to prepare for a tough clash against a Danish side who will be “ready to fight”.

“We already have two matches in Nations League against them so it will be three times in five months,” said Hjulmand.

“France are one of the big favourites, with so much talent, and they are the defending champions. So they are clearly one of the toughest opponents.

“We are preparing for the teams we are going to face. But I advise you (France) to also prepare because we have a very good team and we will be ready to fight.”

Denmark’s best performance at the World Cup was a run to the quarter-finals in 1998 where they were defeated 3-2 by Brazil.

Captain Simon Kjaer said his team were confident of making the last 16 in Qatar out of a group which also includes Tunisia and either Peru, Australia or the United Arab Emirates.

“It’s great to face France. A strong opponent that we drew 0-0 in the last World Cup and who we will face twice before the World Cup in the Nations League,” Kjaer said.

“Tunisia is a rare opponent for us, but it’s always interesting to face teams from other parts of the world at a World Cup, and then there is an as yet unknown opponent.

“We dream of winning trophies with this team and I think we can now say that we are going to advance from this pool.”

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