World Cup 2014

I don't control players with a joystick, says Didier Deschamps

The France coach denies ordering his players to celebrate together in order to portray harmony within the team

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 9:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 9:49pm

France coach Didier Deschamps embodies Michel Platini's dictum that football is all about control, and he has brought those skills learned as the 1998 World Cup-winning captain to this campaign's French squad.

While some have queried whether statements from players about being happy and enjoying living together, not to mention their almost choreographed communal celebrations after scoring goals, are directed by Deschamps so as to firmly cast into the shadows the debacle of the 2010 finals, he firmly denies it.

"I am not controlling the players with a joystick," he said, visibly irritated when asked if he ordered them to join the celebrations.

We need to avoid taking our foot off the gas even if there is not a huge amount at stake
Mathieu Debuchy

Certainly there has been much to celebrate thus far in the finals with eight goals in two games and a point against Ecuador will guarantee them top spot in group E.

The 45-year-old set the tone with his decision to leave the disruptive Samir Nasri out of his squad, showing he was willing to sacrifice talent for a happy ship.

That was where his two predecessors, Raymond Domenech at the 2010 finals and then Laurent Blanc at Euro 2012 - where Nasri failed to repay his faith by being involved in two unsavoury incidents - failed.

And France are vowing no let up of their thrilling attacking style, as fullback Mathieu Debuchy says his teammates will aim to finish with a flourish.

"We need to avoid taking our foot off the gas even if there is not a huge amount at stake," Debuchy said.

"We want to win this match and maintain our positive dynamic in order to prepare well for what is to come."

France's huge goal difference of plus six also means they could even lose to Ecuador and still win the group.

Switzerland, level with Ecuador on three points but trailing on goal difference, would then need to win big against Honduras to have any chance of advancing.

France's comfortable position means Deschamps can shrug off the loss of suspended midfielder Yohan Cabaye, with Lille's Rio Mavuba set to come in.

With Ecuador favouring a direct approach, it could well be a high-scoring encounter.

Wingers Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero will provide the ammunition for Felipe Caicedo and the in-form Enner Valencia, who has three goals.

Reinaldo Rueda's Ecuador only need to match the Swiss result in the other game to reach the last 16 for the first time since Germany in 2006.

Enner Valencia said Ecuador were wary of the threat posed by France's attack, led by Karim Benzema, who also has three goals to his name.

"They're going to be very difficult opponents. We know France's strengths but we're going to have to take care if we want to hurt them," said Valencia, 24, whose brace secured a hard-fought 2-1 win over Honduras in Curitiba last Friday.

The veteran Edison Mendez added: "They have played very well in their two matches so far. Collectively they are doing well and they are getting into the box a lot, so it is going to be a totally different game for us.

"But to know that we have a chance of going through to the last 16 means that we will take to the field feeling confident and strong."

Should Honduras win and Ecuador lose, the calculators would be out to work out who joins France in the last 16.



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