France coach Didier Deschamps does not want to think yet about another final, but he is now a game away.
The 2-0 victory over Uruguay in the quarter-finals has now set France up for a semi-clash against neighbours Belgium on Tuesday as Les Bleus aim for a third World Cup final appearance.
Winning a final would see 49-year-old Deschamps joining Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer in an elite group to win the World Cup as both a player and a coach.
But the former midfielder, who captained France to their 1998 World Cup title and the European Championship triumph two years later, says personal goals are secondary as France now prepare for a sixth World Cup semi-final.
“I like to reach my goals like everybody else but I don’t look at this from a personal perspective,” he said.
“My pride is related to the entire group and here I want to mention my technical staff who help me day in day out. I’m not doing this for myself, I’m there for the team.”
Deschamps has already led France to the Euro 2016 final, losing to Portugal on home soil. After seeing Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane head in from a free-kick and Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann score a second against Uruguay, Deschamps said his young team has been learning fast in Russia.
Uruguay don’t concede many goals – only one this year, in the 2-1 win over Portugal in the last 16 – and not often from set-pieces, he pointed out.
France were always going to be a threat going forward, but defensively Les Bleus have also improved. The back line of centre backs Samuel Umtiti and Varane, flanked by Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez, restricted Uruguay and striker Luis Suarez to few opportunities.
“I don’t want to be too demanding because Uruguay are a great team and (Hugo) Lloris made a great save. Apart from that they really didn’t have any dangerous opportunities,” Deschamps said.
France however controlled the flow of the game, with N’Golo Konte and Paul Pogba bossing midfield, and Corentin Tolisso – in for the suspended Blaise Matuidi on the left of midfield – demonstrating France’s strength in depth.
Kylian Mbappe, while not as effective as in his two-goal performance against Argentina, again showed he has the pace and skill to harm the best of defences, and Griezmann notched his xxx goal of the tournament while also sending in the free-kick for Varane to score.
“I don’t think that [France] have a style that is set,” Griezmann said.
“We observe what happens during the match and we have people who know how to manage the game, they know when to stop and when to move in attack.”
Up front, Olivier Giroud was a focal point, and although the Chelsea striker is still seeking a first goal of the tournament, Deschamps highlighted his importance for the team.
“He might not have the flamboyant style of other players but the team needs him in each and every match, even if he doesn’t score,” he said.
Uruguay leave after three group-stage victories and the defeat of Portugal. The loss to France was sealed when Griezmann’s shot went through the hands of goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
“This is the kind of thing I discuss with my players in the dressing room,” Tabarez said.
“I don’t have anything bad to say against them. We all saw that it was not a very common goal, but Muslera has been a very important pillar in all our work up until now.”
Summing up, the coach said he defeat was simply down to the fact that France were better. “We were lacking what any team is lacking when you lose: we didnt play as well as our rivals and that is why we lost,” he said.
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