Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

Read more

DEBATE

Clone of Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part Two)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part One)

Read more

ENCORE!

The French Maestro of Soul

Read more

FOCUS

US tobacco giants want lion's share of e-cigarette business

Read more

ENCORE!

Bold and bonkers: Kate Bush is back on stage

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Simon Serfaty, US foreign policy specialist

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'It's a War, Stupid!'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French PM calls on ECB to go further to help economy

Read more

  • US military targets Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group

    Read more

  • French education ministry picture sparks racist abuse

    Read more

  • UN backs Iraqi request for inquiry into IS militant crimes

    Read more

  • Obama calls for higher wages amid 'revving' US economy

    Read more

  • Video: Ukraine’s children return to school as fighting rages on

    Read more

  • Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

    Read more

  • US urges Israel to reverse West Bank land seizure

    Read more

  • Lesotho PM calls for regional peacekeeping force after ‘coup’

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Death toll rises in Paris apartment building blast

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Amerli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • French police arrest hungry hedgehog hunters

    Read more

  • Tripoli under control of militias, says government

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao leaves Ligue 1 for Man Utd

    Read more

  • Spain orders custody for parents of ill British boy

    Read more

Sport

France hope to break with past in face-off with Honduras

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-15

France take on Honduras in their opening Group E match at Brazil’s southern Porto Alegre on Sunday evening, where Les Bleus will try to break with their poor performance at the last two World Cups.

Faced with enormous pressure to win, France’s coach Didier Deschamps hopes his relatively inexperienced squad is mature enough to handle the expectations.

Deschamps pointed to defending champions Spain’s 5-1 loss to Netherlands on Friday, and Brazil’s scrappy opener against Croatia the day before, as evidence that nerves can affect favourites in an opening match and set the tone for ensuing games. Something France should know a thing or two about if their last two World Cup performances are anything to go by.

In 2010, France had a 0-0 draw with Uruguay and went out of the group stage without winning a game. Four years before, Les Bleus drew 0-0 against the Swiss and only scraped into the second round with two second-half goals against Togo in their last group game.

“Even when a great team like Spain has an enormous amount of confidence and serenity, things are never evident,” Deschamps said Saturday. “All the teams are prepared here. There might not be that much of a difference.”

Uruguay also failed to live up to its reputation as a dangerous contender. A semi-finalist four years ago, Uruguay had an upset 3-1 loss to Costa Rica on Saturday.

“The difficulty of the first game also comes into it, with the different levels of preparation,” Deschamps said. “Brazil’s first match wasn’t easy against Croatia, either, and ours won’t be easy.”

Young team

Only a small group remains from France’s 2010 World Cup squad. Deschamps has freshened things up with some young faces but they have limited international experience and, crucially, have never been exposed to pressure of this intensity.

Injuries that ruled Franck Ribéry and No. 2 goalkeeper Steve Mandanda out of the squad means only fullbacks Bacary Sagna and Patrice Evra, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and winger Mathieu Valbuena with any experience from the 2010 World Cup. However, Valbuena’s contribution was a fleeting substitute’s appearance.

One of France’s brightest prospects is 21-year-old midfielder Paul Pogba, while 23-year-old winger Antoine Griezmann is pushing for a starting place on the left wing. The 20-year-old left back Lucas Digne has made only two international appearances, raising the question of how he copes at the highest level if Evra gets injured.

“The fact that you’re young (has) advantages, like enthusiasm and drive,” Deschamps said. But “veterans who’ve been through this before handle this kind of experience better.”

Deschamps has resisted one-on-one talks with the young players, deciding that it may unsettle rather than reassure them.

“The very fact that I’d take the step to go and speak to them might come across as me telling them they’re tense and they’re needing me to speak to them,” Deschamps said. “Everyone has their own personality, their own character. You never know how a player will react to the event.”

In 2010, France’s squad cracked in South Africa, going on strike at training and shocking a nation back home. It took several years, and a triumphant 3-0 win against Ukraine in the second leg of their playoff, to win back the trust of the fans.

Deschamps has tried to distance himself from that dark era but the questions still persist.

When he was asked, in English, during a news conference what is different about the squads of 2010 and 2014, he gave a bristly response.

“I didn’t understand everything, but I heard the words ‘South Africa’ and that’s already too much,” he said. “The most important thing is what happens tomorrow”.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2014-06-15

  • WORLD CUP 2014

    Ivory Coast recovers to beat Japan 2-1

    Read more

  • WORLD CUP 2014

    Italy beat England, 2-1, to start World Cup strongly

    Read more

  • WORLD CUP 2014

    Costa Rica shock Uruguay to win 3-1

    Read more

COMMENT(S)