France ready to handle Lionel Messi magic in World Cup second round, says Didier Deschamps

France ready to handle Lionel Messi magic in World Cup second round, says Didier Deschamps
Lionel Messi scored a brilliant goal during Argentina's crucial 2-1 win over Nigeria on Tuesday.
Updated 29 June 2018

France ready to handle Lionel Messi magic in World Cup second round, says Didier Deschamps

France ready to handle Lionel Messi magic in World Cup second round, says Didier Deschamps
  • France manager sure his side can contain Messi.
  • Griezmann backed to come good after a faltering first round for the striker.

France are confident they can keep Lionel Messi quiet when they face Argentina in the first second-round match today.
That is the view of coach Didier Deschamps who also admitted Les Bleus will need to be at their best to cope with the Argentine ace in Kazan on Saturday.
Messi has yet to light up the World Cup in a stuttering Argentina side but his clinical strike in the 2-1 win over Nigeria underlined the danger the Barcelona forward will present France.
“Messi is Messi, look at his statistics, 65 goals in 127 matches,” Deschamps said.
“It’s straightforward, hopefully we would like to neutralize him but we know very well he can make the difference with very little.
“When you play Argentina and Messi on the pitch there are several solutions to limit his impact.”
The 1998 World Cup winners will look to boss the midfield in a bid to limit supply to the lethal 31-year-old, who has struggled to impose himself in the tournament, and hope their defense can continue to hold firm after conceding only one goal in the group phase.
Deschamps said full-back Benjamin Mendy, who returned as a second half substitute in the 0-0 draw against Denmark after missing the opening games against Australia and France, had been ruled out with a “small muscle injury.”
France may face more queries up forward, however, where their array of attacking talents have yet to dominate.
Striker Antoine Griezmann is under pressure to perform after being off the pace in the dull Denmark draw, and he has only got on the scoresheet with a penalty in the opening 2-1 win over Australia.
Captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris backed Griezmann to make his mark at the tournament.
“It is normal that there are expectations around Antoine,” said Lloris.
“He’s one of the top players, he’s done a major Euro competition and feels like being one of the great players of this World Cup.”
Although sailing through the group phase, the scoreless draw against Denmark raised concerns about Les Bleus’ momentum heading into the Argentina blockbuster.
Lloris said his team was only looking ahead, however.
“As we said, this is a new tournament that begins, and I think we have to depend on our collective strength, on a defensive solidity and we know our attacking potential,” Lloris added.
“We have a lot of young but talented players who can make a difference at any moment of the game.”