Thursday 15 November 2018

Deschamps on the defensive after stalemate ore

Denmark 0 France 0

Kasper Schmeichel applauds fans. Photo: Getty Images
Kasper Schmeichel applauds fans. Photo: Getty Images

Sam Wallace in Moscow

By the end of the evening, Didier Deschamps was forced to list the great football nations who have found Russia 2018 difficult, if only to draw attention away from his great France team rolling into the second round as group winners but without a defining performance.

This was a game so bad that, at the final whistle, the neutrals in the crowd booed heartily France's underwhelming attempts to break down Denmark in the first goalless game of this World Cup.

France coach Didier Deschamps. Photo: Reuters
France coach Didier Deschamps. Photo: Reuters

Deschamps made six changes from the team that beat Peru - including the likes of Paul Pogba, Samuel Umtiti, Hugo Lloris and Kylian Mbappe - and still this was a line-up missing some of the je ne sais quoi one would expect of the replacement players.

"The reality is that it is challenging for everyone," Deschamps said. "Look at Argentina, and Germany got a win by the skin of their teeth. It's not easy. You can tell me there's room for improvement but even top teams - Brazil, Germany, Spain - it is not easy for all of them."

As the news of Peru's lead over Australia came through the onus on either side to push the game reduced considerably.

"Denmark decided to be more cautious. They were afraid of counter-attacks. It's a choice - they have achieved their goal," Deschamps said.

France's Steven Nzonzi, and Denmark's Christian Eriksen battle for possession. Photo: AP
France's Steven Nzonzi, and Denmark's Christian Eriksen battle for possession. Photo: AP

The Danes were happy with 32pc possession and one attempt on goal to get a point that takes them into the second round for the first time since 2002, leaving Ireland to dream of what might have been..

Their coach Age Hareide rejected any notion that this was a poor spectacle, the first 0-0 at a World Cup since Holland and Argentina failed to score over 120 minutes in their semi-final four years ago.

"We just needed one point, right?" Hareide said. "We were up against one of the best counter-attacking teams in the world so we would have been stupid to open up a lot of space. We are very pleased."

© Daily Telegraph, London

Denmark's Jens Stryger Larsen in action with France's Ousmane Dembele. Photo: Reuters
Denmark's Jens Stryger Larsen in action with France's Ousmane Dembele. Photo: Reuters
France's Lucas Hernandez challenges Denmark's Martin Braithwaite. Photo: AP
France's Lucas Hernandez challenges Denmark's Martin Braithwaite. Photo: AP

Telegraph.co.uk

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