Didier Deschamps pleased with closing stages against Nigeria

France coach defends Olivier Giroud but praises roll played by replacement Antoine Griezmann

France’s head coach Didier Deschamps (centre) shakes hands with Nigerian players John Obi Mikel (right) and goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama (left)  at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia. Photograph: Shawn Thew / EPA

France’s head coach Didier Deschamps (centre) shakes hands with Nigerian players John Obi Mikel (right) and goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama (left) at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia. Photograph: Shawn Thew / EPA

 

France coach Didier Deschamps is indifferent about his unbeaten World Cup record as a player and coach and is focusing only on getting his players ready for their quarter-final.

France’s 2-0 win over Nigeria put them through to face Germany or Algeria in the last eight and made it 10 unbeaten World Cup games Deschamps has been involved in.

“What I am interested in is the here and now,” Deschamps told a news conference. “We are among the last eight teams of the World Cup in Brazil,” added the 45-year-old, who captained France to their 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 triumphs.

“We have four days to rest and prepare for the game against Algeria or Germany.”

Deschamps was delighted with his players against an athletic Nigeria side and the victory was sealed by a header from man-of-the-match Paul Pogba and an own goal from Joseph Yobo.

Deschamps said he was particularly pleased with the last half an hour, when the introduction of forward Antoine Griezmann gave the French a bit more zip in attack.

“We had a very strong last half an hour with more dynamism and more speed,” Deschamps said. “We had space to create chances and we could have scored quite a few times. I tried to create some more speed by bringing on Griezmann and we tried to exploit the space with short passes and it worked.”

The Basque-born coach defended striker Olivier Giroud, who toiled up front to little effect before making way for Griezmann in the 62nd minute.

“They are different types of players,” Deschamps said. “Olivier was very useful as a support for (Karim) Benzema and there were some nice combinations up front. With his headers defensively and offensively he (Giroud) was very important.

“What is most important is that the choices we made worked and we ended on a positive note. You have to remember that Nigeria played with four forwards but we stood up to them. Our midfielders kept the ball and that was very important.”

France play their quarter-final in Rio de Janeiro on July 4th.

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