French coach Didier Deschamps has said he is not unduly worried about his side’s struggling defence which was again exposed in a 4-3 defeat by Belgium.
The home side’s back four took a hammering in the friendly game at the Stade de France and from critics after Sunday’s defeat which followed a 3-1 home loss to Brazil in March. They have beaten Denmark in between.
Deschamps acknowledged the problems but said he prefers to go into Euro 2016, which France will host, with a challenge.
“Defensive discipline is important at the top level,” he said. “We have to perform better in the defence sector. Teams are better than us and we are suffering.
“But I am not worried. It is a good choice to have your backs to the wall and we were like that with Brazil and Belgium.
“There is room to improve. We are capable of getting into a higher gear but we need to work hard at it,” said the coach.
Belgium, now ranked second in the world with players like Eden Hazard and Marouane Fellaini on top form, dominated the game despite the close result. Belgium were 4-1 up with two minutes of regular time left.
Fellaini scored twice and Hazard and Radja Nainggolan got the others in what Belgium coach Marc Wilmots called a “great result.”
Deschamps acknowledged “its not an ideal time” for France but added he would not look for excuses.
France were without first choice players such as striker Karim Benzema and Deschamps said some of those who played “did not perform well in this match.
“There is competition and those who get playing time must take advantage of it,” the coach said.
France’s World Cup winning defender Bixente Lizarazu said the team need a shakeup.
“We have too many defensive problems. I think there is also a problem of balance in this team because it is not just the defence,” Lizarazu said on RTL radio.
“It is a problem of the global balance: we were not dangerous enough up front especially in the first half.”
“Didier Deschamps used just about all of his offensive weapons but we are now one year from the Euro.
“Our confidence came back after the World Cup. These two defeats are tough, it’s true.”
Lizarazu said that without panicking, Deschamps must quickly “find a defence that is strong enough” for the campaign ahead.
France qualify for Euro 2016 automatically as hosts, but play another friendly against Albania this weekend.
Belgium can look forward with confidence to a crucial Euro 2016 qualifier, against Wales in Cardiff on Friday despite doubts surrounding coach Wilmots.
Wilmots has been linked with Bundesliga club Schalke 04 where he won the UEFA Cup as a player in 1997.
Belgium and Wales are level in top spot in Group B on 11 points, two ahead of Israel. – Agence France-Presse