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Group mission accomplished, now France need to step up a gear

June 20, 2016 12:13 IST
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‘If the goalkeeper is man of the match it really tells you how it went’

Didier Deschamps

IMAGE: France's Dimitri Payet waits as head coach Didier Deschamps looks on. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters.

France are still a work in progress requiring tweaks despite coasting through to the knockout phase of Euro 2016 as group winners on Sunday, according to coach Didier Deschamps.

France drew 0-0 with Switzerland but were mere centimetres away from victory as they hit the woodwork three times, while opposing goalkeeper Yann Sommer produced three superb saves.

"If the goalkeeper is man of the match it really tells you how it went," Deschamps said, adding he had wanted a third win, but was content to have topped Group A.

In the next round, France will take on a third-placed team in the last 16, while Switzerland will play Group C runners up -- possibly Poland or Germany.

Wasteful in front of goal here, the French will have to be more clinical in their finishing if they are to repeat their 1998 heroics, when they won the World Cup on home soil.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris equalled the record of Deschamps, who captained that 1998 side, by skippering Les Bleus for the 54th time, but it was his Swiss counterpart Yann Sommer who was the busiest in the first half.

"We had the chances to win this game but we're first in the group," said Pogba.

The Juventus star was imperious in the first half on his recall to France's starting lineup after being relegated to the bench in the previous game against Albania.

By doing so, the hosts have earned an extra day's rest over coming second, with a last-16 match against a third-place finisher in Lyon on Sunday.

"We're pretty relaxed. I think we'll find out on Tuesday, definitely by Wednesday, who we'll face. But we have a long rest ahead," Deschamps said.

The France coach said he had stabilised a defence which had come under scrutiny after letting in two goals in friendlies against Cameroon, Netherlands and England and four a year ago versus Belgium, but his players now needed to be more clinical.

"In a short space of time we have resolved things defensively, from set pieces," he said. "Now a second competition is starting, in which we need to step up a gear."

Deschamps added that France could do better in controlling games and also in attack, for example by becoming more threatening from corners.

"We need to be able to mix things up too. Some (corners) we hit a bit too high, some to the same area. Perhaps we didn't have the right running position. These are things we can tweak," he said.

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