Deschamps knew France wouldn't be eliminated like past World Cup champions

ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP / Getty

Doha, Nov 26, 2022 (AFP) - France coach Didier Deschamps insisted he was never worried his side might be the latest defending champions to be eliminated from the World Cup in the group stage after they became the first team through to the last 16.

The holders followed their opening 4-1 win over Australia by beating Denmark 2-1 in Doha on Saturday thanks to a Kylian Mbappe brace, with the all-important second goal coming four minutes from time.

That left France on six points after two games, and they now look set to win Group D as well, with just a draw in their last match against Tunisia all they need to guarantee top spot.

It is a far cry from the last three World Cups, in which the holders have gone out in the group stage on each occasion.

That statistic had been mentioned to Deschamps prior to the tournament, especially as injuries ruled out key players, including Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kante.

"Soon I will have to thank everyone who spoke to me about that," said Deschamps.

Italy were the holders when they went out at the first hurdle in 2010, with the same fate befalling Spain in 2014 and Germany four years later.

"I am never worried, even if you know the atmosphere around the squad is not always calm," he added.

"But I wasn't anxious or worried, for the good reason that statistics are there to be contradicted after a while.

"We are not going to get carried away, but what we have done so far is very good.

"The players are competitors and there is a collective strength that stands out, and which you can see on the pitch too.

"We will need that for what is to come."

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Deschamps knew France wouldn't be eliminated like past World Cup champions
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