Didier Deschamps has warned his France players they must be calm, confident and keep their concentration in Sunday’s World Cup final against Croatia in Moscow.
Deschamps captained France to their sole World Cup success in 1998 and his side will be favourites when they face Croatia, making their first appearance in a World Cup final, at the Luzhniki Stadium.
France lost in their last appearance in the World Cup final in 2006, while Deschamps’ side also suffered defeat when tipped as favourites against Portugal in the Euro 2016 final.
Deschamps said France are a very different team to the one that lost to Portugal in Paris two years ago but accepted they are inexperienced compared to the Croatians.
“It’s a huge pleasure and privilege to play in such a match, there’s nothing more beautiful as a professional football player than to play in the World Cup final,” he said.
“We have prepared them as best we can. We must stay calm, we must have confidence and we must concentrate – these are the three words we’ve have been focusing on to get them ready for the final.
“The 14 players I have integrated since the Euro final, they have only learned what playing a big tournament is all about here in Russia, so of course the experience is less but the quality is there.
“Croatia has players with great club experience and their squad has been together for a long time but every team we’ve faced here has been more experienced.”
Deschamps also insisted his side have their feet firmly on the ground ahead of the final.
“There is no euphoria here, we are all satisfied because we have reached this point, and this is the biggest game of the year,” he said.
It was a point echoed by France captain Hugo Lloris who said the players had shut out the wave of celebrations at home in order to play the perfect match.
“To be honest we are in our little bubble and we don’t know what is happening in France,” he said.
“We are far from thinking that we have reached our goal. We will face a high-quality opponent and they deserve as much credit as we do.
“They have displayed their physical and mental strengths and tomorrow we will need a great French team to win.”
France have never needed to go beyond 90 minutes in their run to the final after beating Argentina in the round of 16, Uruguay in the last eight and Belgium in the semi-finals.
But Croatia had to battle from a goal down in all three of their knockout matches to beat Denmark, Russia and England and played extra time in all of them, needing penalties against the Danes and hosts Russia.
“Croatia have shown their mental strength which is quite incredible. They have managed to qualify after extra time three times in a row. There is something special in this team,” Lloris warned.
“They also have an incredible collective strength. We have a lot of respect for them. We need to perform at a high level and deliver a perfect match to win.
“I think that our team is quite calm. I do not really know if we realise how far we have come but it is better that way.
“We have this inner strength from the beginning of the tournament with which we can overcome any challenge.
“Tomorrow will be the most important match of our career. It will be a special match because it is a World Cup final and we have to stay in our bubble to focus on the ultimate goal.”
West Ham have signed defender Fabian Balbuena from Brazilian side Corinthians on a three-year deal. Sky Sports News understands the fee for ... Read more
Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson has passed his medical ahead of his move to West Ham, according to Sky sources. It is understood ... Read more