Latest update: 15/10/2012
France promise to take fight to World champions Spain
Didier Deschamps’ French side face a crunch World Cup qualifier against Spain in Madrid on Tuesday. The French coach insisted his team must attack the reigning world champions or face inevitable defeat.
France’s Les Bleus will not sit back and defend against world and European champions Spain in their 2014 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, coach Didier Deschamps said on the eve of the game.
Deschamps, who turned 44 on Monday, added it would be fatal to sit back and allow Spain to come at them as had happened in the 2-0 defeat in the Euro 2012 quarter-final, when his fellow World Cup winning team-mate Laurent Blanc was in charge.
"The problem with Spain is that they have the abilities to retain possession," said Deschamps, who took over the France job when Blanc stepped down after the Euro exit.
"But I am convinced that to come here and to think solely of defending is not a solution because with the quality that Spain have at a certain point they will score."
"The most important thing when we have the ball, will be to use it effectively."
France have a fine record against Spain in competitive matches, winning five of the seven meetings between the European neighbours, drawing one and losing one.
However, their only defeat came in that Euro 2012 clash.
Spain are on a 24-match winning run in major championship qualifiers and last failed to take three points in a 1-1 draw with Iceland in September 2007.
It is almost 10 years since they last lost a qualifier at home, a 1-0 loss to Greece in Zaragoza in June 2003.
France have hardly had the perfect build-up to such an important game with a surprise 1-0 home defeat to Japan last Friday and Deschamps will be looking for a much-improved performance.
One ray of hope for Deschamps lies in the fact Spain will be without first choice injured center backs Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, while defender Sergio Ramos is also a doubt, with muscle problems.
Deschamps said he expected his two most high profile players Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery to assume their responsibilities and produce great performances.
Benzema, who plays for Real Madrid, was talking tough on the eve of the game, telling reporters Les Bleus would have to play like warriors if they are to stand any chance of beating the Spanish.
"It's not impossible," the 24-year-old told a news conference at Atletico Madrid's Calderon stadium, where the Group I clash will take place.
"It will require hard work," he added. "We will be 11 warriors on the pitch."
Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque accepts that the clash with France will prove pivotal to deciding who will qualify for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
“While there are still 15 points up for grabs after this match, it still seems like this matchup with France will prove vital for qualifying,” Del Bosque said on Monday. “I want us to prepare with that same mentality. We’ll try to field a team that will know how to defend against France without losing initiative to take the ball forward.”
Spain and France lead the group with six points each. Georgia is next with four. Finland has one point, while Belarus has zero.
Kick-off: 21:00 local time (GMT+2).
(FRANCE 24 with wires)