Didier Deschamps promises more to come from France after draw with Portugal

Hungary Portugal France Euro 2020 Soccer
(Image credit: Bernadett Szabo)

France manager Didier Deschamps warned their Euro 2020 rivals there is plenty more to come from the world champions ahead of the knockout stage.

A 2-2 draw with Portugal ensured Les Bleus finished top of Group F with five points and set up a meeting in the round of 16 with Switzerland on Monday.

Karim Benzema’s double cancelled out a brace of Cristiano Ronaldo penalties but France were far from their best with Kylian Mbappe still to get off the mark and Everton defender Lucas Digne set to join Ousmane Dembele in being ruled out of the rest of the tournament due to injury.

Deschamps said: “In terms of points, we are first. Maybe other teams gave a better impression than the French team but now it is a new competition that starts.

“The first match against Germany was really important for us and to win this one point against Hungary allowed us even before this match to be qualified but as I said to the players we don’t want to do any calculations because we don’t want to take any risks.

“We have seen everything could change very quickly in this group. Of course we didn’t do everything well all the time and we can improve some things.”

A positive for France was Benzema scoring his first international goals since 2015 after the Real Madrid forward received a surprise recall before the European Championships got under way and he was happy to silence the doubters.

He added: “I knew as soon as I would be in the national team, the critics would come out – that is part of the football game but I never give up.

“As soon as I put my feet on the pitch I want to score and today I managed to do that. But I am training a lot. It was always like that, even when I was a little kid.

“Today everyone was waiting for this goal and that was some kind of extra motivation for me. Of course there is another pressure than when you play for your club because it is your whole country but for me it is a great pleasure.”

Portugal occupied every position in the group during their 2-2 draw with France on a dramatic night but eventually finished as one of the best third-placed teams and take on Belgium – the number one ranked side in the world – next in Sevilla on Sunday.

The round of 16 clash will give Ronaldo the chance to become the record goalscorer at international level after he equalled Iran’s Ali Daei’s tally of 109 with a brace against France.

Boss Fernando Santos struggled to hide his frustration at a quick turnaround, especially with Belgium concluding their group on Monday.

“Resting is very important. We will have to mitigate this 48-hour difference,” he said.

“We want to recuperate the players and have them fresh for the next match. I thought for what they played today, they have managed to recharge their mental batteries and right now we have to eliminate the fatigue.

“We are going to face very high temperatures but this is not a handicap for us. We are going to study our opponent. We already know them but we will see what changed and we will prepare this match with our idea to progress.”

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