Denmark provides France coach Deschamps with a puzzle to solve

DOHA, Nov 25 (Reuters) – France started the World Cup with a bang against Australia but Denmark will offer a much tougher challenge and could lead coach Didier Deschamps to make key tactical changes on Saturday.

The defending champions will secure qualification for the knockout stage with a game to spare in Group D if they win against a side who beat and outplayed them twice recently.

Denmark beat France 2-1 away in June and 2-0 at home in September in the Nations League.

“In June they had a few different players and there will be a few new (ones) tomorrow because the team may not be exactly the same as it was in June or in September but we’ve assessed those players and we of course learn from those experiences in the past but Denmark will learn from them too,” France captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris told a news conference on Friday.

“They can change their system from one match to the other and that can give us different types of difficulties.”

While coach Didier Deschamps will stick to a four-man defense, he could be tempted to make a few adjustments as Denmark have little in common with Australia, who Les Bleus beat 4-1 on Tuesday.

Fullback Benjamin Pavard was often outpaced on the right side of the defense, which could lead Deschamps to the extreme decision of bringing in central defender Jules Kounde.

With France’s right flank being their main weakness, Adrien Rabiot could switch to the right side of midfield with Aurelien Tchouameni playing as the number six and Antoine Griezmann moving slightly deeper behind the offensive trio.

Up front, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele should retain their spots, but more will be asked of them in terms of defensive work.

BETTER BALANCE

Barcelona’s Dembele, notably, will need to strike a better balance between offense and defense.

“He has improved a lot on this aspect because he has greater demands at the club level,” said Deschamps.

“I’ve discussed it with him: it’s more about positioning to make fewer efforts. In fact, against Australia there were a couple of situations where he was a bit off, I told him, and he corrected it.”

Deschamps conceded some adjustments could be needed.

“I can do anything. On the in-depth analysis of our first game, in addition to the goal conceded, there are three situations where we must do better,” he told a news conference.

“So there are four situations to correct. It requires adjustments, by the positioning of certain players or the replacement of one.”

Deschamps still has a lot of thinking to do before he announces his lineup to the players a few hours before the match.

“The ideal is to be dangerous, to create chances, to score goals and not to concede anything,” he said.

“Perfection doesn’t exist, but we try to get closer to it. This requires discussions with the players and complementarities between them. It is logical to have things to improve.”

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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