Saturday, July 13, 2024

Austria opener ´not decisive´ for France as Deschamps highlights Argentina example

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 16 Jun 2024

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Didier Deschamps knows the importance of France’s Euro 2024 opener against Austria, but he pointed to Argentina’s World Cup success to demonstrate a fast start is not everything.

France are seen as one of the favourites to win the tournament in Germany, having reached the final at three of their last four major competitions, finishing as runners-up at Euro 2016 and the 2022 World Cup either side of winning the 2018 World Cup.

The Netherlands and Poland are also present in their tricky group, with Ronald Koeman’s Oranje getting off the mark with a 2-1 win when those sides met on Sunday.

Though Deschamps is keen to see France match that fast start, their experience at the Qatar World Cup proved it is not a necessity.

A Kylian Mbappe hat-trick in the final of that tournament was not enough to prevent France from losing to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina, who had opened their campaign with a stunning 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia.

“The first match is very important, but not decisive,” Deschamps said on Sunday. “Starting with a win… there is nothing better, Austria will think the same.

“Negotiating this first match well would put us in a good position, but there is no one way to do it, look at Argentina!

“This is the competition, we made sure with all the staff that they had all the information. The common trait between all the matches is that the intensity is very high.

“Austria have this strength, they use verticality well. We will have to be ready to get the result we want.”

France’s Euro 2024 preparations have been overshadowed by political events in the country, with forwards Marcus Thuram and Mbappe both choosing to speak out ahead of parliamentary elections to take place in the coming weeks.

With Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party expected to fare well, Thuram said the situation was “sad”.

Mbappe, meanwhile, used Sunday’s pre-match press conference to say: “I hope we’ll still be proud to wear this jersey on July 7.”

Deschamps is not concerned about such matters distracting his players and never considered advising them against airing their views.

“I consider that my intervention would be inappropriate. I could have said, ‘given the situation, guys, focus on the sport’, as if I forbade them to speak,” he said.

“I didn’t. They are men, French citizens, with their own sensitivities. When they are on the pitch, they are focused on the sporting objectives, but not disconnected from what can happen.”

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