France sits comfortably on top of its Euro 2024 qualification group but manager Didier Deschamps refuses to get carried away with its excellent start as it prepares to face Ireland on Thursday in Paris.
With four games played in Group B, France has maximum points and is yet to concede a goal. Two teams qualify from the group so at the halfway stage, the French are almost there. Almost is not good enough for their coach.
“I’ve already experienced situations with almost, it’s not qualified. I am pragmatic and factual, the players are aware of that too,” Deschamps told reporters on Wednesday.
“If that’s enough, that’s enough, but let’s take the points.”
France opened its qualification campaign with a 4-0 thumping of the Netherlands, but found it tougher when it came away from Dublin with a 1-0 win against Ireland in March. Deschamps expects more of the same in Paris.
“The game in Dublin was complicated, we had played three days before against the Netherlands, and Ireland had played a friendly, there was a freshness about them,” he said.
“There is a quality to this Ireland team. It will take more presence and we need to create more defensive problems for them. They have a grouped block and it will be the case again tomorrow.”
The French manager also denied rumours that forward Randal Kolo Muani would not be available for the game with Ireland.
“He did his session yesterday, he was not in the gym, you have bad information. He had a very good session on the pitch,” Deschamps added.
Kylian Mbappe had been expected to appear at the press conference, but instead it was left to vice captain Antoine Griezmann to face the media.
The Atletico Madrid forward spoke of the challenges of playing a more midfield role for the French national side.
“It was complicated to find myself in this position, to quickly change between my position at Atletico and the one I have here,” Griezmann said.
“Whether I’m in midfield or up front, I’m going to give it my all and I know what I have to do.”
Griezmann is also expecting another tough game after the narrow win away to Ireland.
“(Goalkeeper) Mike Maignan saved the team two or three times. We expect a lot of intensity, we will have to keep the ball if we do not want to suffer so much,” he added.
After Ireland, France then travels to take on Germany in a friendly on Sept. 12.