Les Bleus

Deschamps: 'We lacked strength, character and energy'

Publish on 14/06/2022 at 10:00

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France boss Didier Deschamps was downbeat after France rounded out their four-match UEFA Nations League camp with a 1-0 defeat to Croatia in Paris on Monday. Reigning champions Les Bleus are now winless in four at the foot of League A Group 1.

Luka Modric sealed the result of the match with an early penalty (5', pen.) after French neophyte defender Ibrahima Konaté fouled Ante Budimir in the area, as - despite the array of talent on display - France struggled to impose their game on a well-drilled Croatia side.

France fans hoping for a first win of Les Bleus' Nations League defence were left wanting more and better as a front three of Christopher Nkunku, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé struggled to trouble the visitors' backline.

Ligue 1 Uber Eats top scorer and assists leader Mbappé had France's best chances, testing Croatia 'keeper Ivica Ivusic with a snap volley (7') and then an effort that lacked only in power (61').

No contest

But Croatia held out for the win in front of the Stade de France faithful, leaving Deschamps to sum up what has been a testing week's work.

"Beyond the formation, which we can change, the energy of the opponent was so superior tonight that it was hard to fight," said the long-time France boss. "We certainly didn't have the juice for this match, which doesn't take away the merit of this Croatian team, who kept the ball well."

It proved to be something of a theme for Deschamps, many of whose world-beating players - notably UEFA Champions League winner Benzema - were involved in European heroics until just before this string of matches.

"It has been like that throughout this camp, and that's no excuse, but our guys are worn out," he explained. "We lacked strength, character and energy. You have to accept it, even if it hurts not to win a match. I didn't have the strength and energy to give them either. The reality of the top level is unforgiving."

See you in September

Deschamps' next chance to get some points on the board - France are currently bottom of League A Group 1 with two points from four matches - comes when Austria travel to the Stade de France on Thursday, 22 September before Les Bleus head to Copenhagen's Telia Parken for Matchday 6 on Sunday, 25 September.

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