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Deschamps starts World Cup adventure against Wales

Didier Deschamps skippered France to the 1998 World Cup.
Didier Deschamps skippered France to the 1998 World Cup. Reuters/Charles Platiau

France entertain Wales on Friday at the Stade de France with the coaches of the respective teams facing vastly differing fortunes. Didier Deschamps leads les Bleus into the friendly with the backing of his football association after negotiating France  through a World Cup qualifying group comprising Sweden and the Netherlands. 


Chris Coleman will talk about his future next week with his country's football administrators after the friendly against Panama. Last month a 1-0 home loss to the Republic of Ireland ended Welsh ambitions of a first appearance at the World Cup since 1958.

"I don't look at these two games as the end of anything," said Coleman, who took Wales to the last four of the European Championships in 2016. "I have to prepare for the game against France to make sure that we'll be competitive."

Wales were one of the surprise packages of the championships in France in 2016. They topped their group after wins over Slovakia and Russia and in the last 16 edged past Northern Ireland before eclipsing a much fancied Belgium side 3-1 in the last eight. Their adventure ended in Lyon against Portugal.

Skipper Ashley Williams, who was a defensive mainstay of the Euro 2016 campaign, made clear on Friday the feelings of the squad. "We enjoy working with him and if it was up to us we would have him stay as long as possible.

"We always enjoy the camps, we give our all for him and I think that shows in the games."

Wales will go into the match without their star forward Gareth Bale who is injured. France too are hampered. Midfielders Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante as well as forward Ousmane Dembele are all sidelined.

And there is concern over a slump in the normally reliable Antoine Griezmann. The 26-year-old Atletico Madrid striker has scored only three times in 13 appearances for the Spanish outfit.

He has not hit the target for his club since converting a penalty against Chelsea in the Uefa Champions League on 27 September.

Deschamps played down worries over Griezmann's form. "Why would he not get better? Today, he's not as good but he has lots of experience. I know what he's capable of doing and he's part of the team."

Griezmann was on target when France secured their passage to Russia with a 2-1 victory over Belarus on 10 October at the Stade de France.

It was a nervous performance against a limited side. "We are not a work in progress," added Deschamps. "There is room for improvement. Now and in March, as I did before the last World Cup and the Euros, I will make sure there are second and third options. I want to have as much information as possible before the final squad is named in May."

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