France on track for Euro 2016

Didier Deschamps (AFP)
Didier Deschamps (AFP)

Paris - France's friendly win over Spain on Thursday showed their run to the World Cup quarter-finals in Brazil was no fluke and has strengthened coach Didier Deschamps's belief that he is building his Euro 2016 campaign around the right core.

'Les Bleus' were never threatened by Spain and prevailed 1-0 thanks to Loic Remy's second-half goal.

Deschamps made only one change from the side who started against eventual champions Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals, with Moussa Sissoko taking Yohan Cabaye's place in midfield.

Deschamps, who has two seasons of friendlies to get his team ready to host Euro 2016, said the performance against Spain was built on what they had achieved in Brazil.

"We managed to keep the mindset," said Deschamps. "Those who started were all at the World Cup. We have references, and we have gained experience in two years. It is not huge but it counts."

The French defence held firm throughout, with Rafael Varane and Mamadou Sakho easily containing the Spanish attacks.

Spain, who were defending their World Cup title in Brazil but were knocked out in the first round, failed to register a single shot on target in Paris.

In midfield, the power of Sissoko, Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba helped France gain the upper hand after the break while Mathieu Valbuena was in ebullient form behind the slightly disappointing Karim Benzema.

France looked lively going forward thanks to Sissoko and Valbuena although Antoine Griezmann's dull performance showed that Franck Ribery's shoes will be tough to fill.

Ribery retired from international football last month.

Deschamps hinted there would not be many changes in the future as he looks to further cement his squad's cohesion on and off the pitch.

"I am satisfied with these (players) and we need to give them time," he said. "I've got a base to work on and the players are happy to be coming back.

"Maybe I'll change a few things when it will get busy during some Champions League periods but the ones I have now need to gain more collective experience."

Looking ahead to the Euro 2016 finals, Deschamps said: "It's still far away but we had not beaten Spain in eight years. It's not nothing and it should give us more confidence."

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, who is rebuilding his team after their shock World Cup exit, believes France will be a tough nut to crack on home soil in 2016.

"They are a very powerful, physical team," said Del Bosque.

"They will definitely be among the top contenders in two years."

France face Serbia away on Sunday and will play all Euro 2016 qualifying Group I teams in friendlies in the coming months. They will also take on Portugal, Denmark, Albania and Armenia.

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