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Deschamps backs France to handle dreams of a nation

Didier Deschamps is confident his France team is ready to deal with a phenomenal weight of expectation when they host Portugal in Sunday’s Euro 2016 final.

Deschamps’ side completed their run to the final at the Stade de France with a stirring 2-0 win over world champions Germany, where they were backed by incredible support at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome.

Enthusiasm around the nation is set to reach fever pitch over the course of this weekend but Deschamps believes his players will handle the occasion, suggesting they learnt from some fitful earlier performances during the group stages. 

“I don’t know about pressure, there has been a lot of exception over the last two years,” he told a pre-match news conference in Saint-Denis, where France will try to repeat the feat of being victorious hosts as at the 1984 European Championship and 1998 World Cup.

“The opening match [a 2-1 win over Romania] was like a final, even though it wasn’t a final – this is a real final.

“This is the seventh game [of the tournament for France], obviously in a unique context. With my staff we will need to talk about this aspect and indeed others.

“We don’t need to look at permutations and try and play the match out in our heads. I think the players will be able to play at 100 per cent as we have since the start of the competition but there also the opposition to consider – we are not there on our own.

“Portugal have ability but they are not there by chance. They also had some issues at the start but they have made it through step by step.”

Deschamps will try to keep France’s final preparations in line with their work throughout the competition, but he concedes it is pointless to try and convince his 23-man squad that they are taking part in simply another game of football.

“It’s a bit of both,” he said. “Of course it is a special moment, a privileged time and a unique opportunity because there is a title at the end of it.

“You must think about that but not focus on it too much. You also need to really stay true to what you are used to doing. 

“The ideal scenario is to go into the match as relaxed as possible all the while being as focused as possible.”

Nevertheless, the former midfielder, who captained France to glory in the finals of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 admitted his true ideal scenario is in the past.

“Of course, it is different being in the dugout as a head coach,” he added. “I won’t hide the fact that the best place to be is out there as a player.

“Now when I’m in the dugout, when I experience the match, I am a little bit frustrated that I can’t participate with my boots on.”

“Now when I’m in the dugout, when I experience the match, I am a little bit frustrated that I can’t participate with my boots on.”

Sat 9 Jul, 2016
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