France need to move up a gear: Deschamps

Far from their best, world champions aim for a good home show against Dutch 'underdogs'

PARIS • The goal-less draw with Germany in midweek had been a "good result" for France manager Didier Deschamps, but the world champions know that they have to put on a show against the Netherlands today with an expectant home faithful watching on.

In what will be their first game on home soil since lifting the World Cup in Russia, Deschamps believes his men need to sharpen up when they play Ronald Koeman's side as the French seemed to be nursing a post-victory hangover in Munich.

They created only a few chances in the Nations League match, with the Germans eager for redemption after their shock World Cup group-stage exit while Les Bleus, at times, simply looked content with keeping Die Mannschaft at bay.

"We can do it better," said Deschamps, who is also considering tinkering with his squad to keep things fresh.

"We are returning home (to the Stade de France) but we need to be more efficient.

"We ran out of steam towards the end (against Germany) and obviously, the entire squad is not yet at the peak of their form. Not at this time of the season. I haven't decided yet whether to rotate players - anything is possible."

His men, having had limited pre-season preparation, failed to pick up where they left off in Moscow in July. Their passing was far from accurate and they seemed to lack pace, with forwards Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, who were so dynamic in the summer, posing no real threat.

Deschamps' team can expect days of festivities when they return to Paris, but the players are aware they not only need to pick up three points from their next Nations League match with the Dutch but also entertain their supporters.

"It will be a great feeling because it will be our first match in France since we won the title," Giroud said.

"But we have to get the three points against the Dutch to stay in contention in the Nations League."

While the Netherlands team are a pale shadow of the one that finished runners-up at the 2010 World Cup, having failed to qualify for two successive major tournaments in Euro 2016 and June's World Cup, Koeman is doing his best to pull the Oranje out of the doldrums.

They have been defeated in just one match under the former Everton boss and they were buoyed by a 2-1 friendly victory over Peru on Thursday.

Koeman has, however, admitted his side will be the "underdogs".

"France are the world champions for a reason... When you want to improve, you have to play against nations of this level," he said.

"The World Cup has proven that nothing is impossible - just look at Croatia - but we're certainly the underdogs."

The Nations League is the brainchild of European football governing body Uefa and aims to boost interest in international football.

It features all 55 of Europe's national teams, divided into four divisions that have been split into four groups, with games played between this month and November.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 09, 2018, with the headline 'France need to move up a gear: Deschamps'. Print Edition | Subscribe