Deschamps: 'Use the ball well'
France coach Didier Deschamps says his side will have to make the most of their time on the ball to clinch a result against Spain - who are wary of Les Bleus' attacking quality - in their World Cup qualifier in Madrid on Tuesday.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
World Cup Qualifying Group I
Estadio Vicente Calderon, Madrid
Spain - France (kick-off at 21:00 CET)
A footballing treat awaits fans at the Estadio Vicente Calderon on Tuesday night as France and Spain - joint leaders of World Cup qualifying Group I with two wins from two matches so far - look to gain the upper hand in their quest for a ticket to Brazil 2014.
As reigning World and back-to-back European champions, Spain are clear favourites for the group and also for the match, but France boss Didier Deschamps isn't worried that La Roja will hand Les Bleus an Iberian nightmare.
"I don't have nightmares," he declared. "I prefer dreams, and in general dreams go pretty well. But dreams aren't reality, and the problem with Spain is that they have the quality to keep the ball for long stretches. But I'm convinced that coming here simply to defend is no solution, because with their attacking quality, Spain usually break you down sooner or later. The most important thing is that when we have the ball, we use it well."
These last remarks echo those Deschamps made after France's 1-0 friendly loss to Japan on Friday, when a lack of cutting edge saw a dominant France side fall victim to a late Shinji Kagawa goal, and Les Bleus will be looking to the front three of Jérémy Ménez, Karim Benzema and Franck Ribéry to bring all their considerable skills to bear to bring Spain undone.
Iniesta: 'Be at our best'
"If we're not at our absolute best against France, it's France who'll win the match," said Barcelona star Andres Iniesta. "We can't rely on our record, nor on the fact that France lost to Japan. France are, in theory, our direct rivals for qualification. The fact that we beat them in Euro 2012 [2-0 in the quarter-finals] is of little importance - they have a lot of new players, and a new coach too."
Evra, Koscielny fit
While Spain are at full strength for the clash - Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos having recovered from a muscle problem - Deschamps has had to make some adjustments in training to allow Patrice Evra and Laurent Koscielny to get over slight niggles, but both are expected to start.
Spain: Casillas (c); Arbeloa, Ramos (or Albiol), Busquets, Alba; Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta (or Javi Martinez); Pedro, Fabregas, Silva (or Iniesta)
France: Lloris (c); Debuchy, Koscielny, Sakho, Evra; Cabaye, Gonalons (or Capoue), Matuidi; Ménez, Benzema, Ribéry