CLAIREFONTAINE, France (Reuters) - Didier Deschamps is convinced he has helped France to overcome their on-pitch woes and play with a new sense of confidence when they face major teams such as Germany.
Les Bleus have failed to shine on the big stage since reaching the 2006 World Cup final, enduring some troubling episodes at the 2008 and 2012 European championships and at the 2010 World Cup.
Since Deschamps took over from Laurent Blanc last July, France appear to have turned a corner as they snatched a surprise 1-1 away draw against world and European champions Spain in a World Cup qualifier last October.
They followed up with a 2-1 victory against Italy in Parma and are now ready to extend their unbeaten run against Germany into a 26th year when the two teams meet in Wednesday’s friendly international at the Stade de France.
“There was more concern before the big games (against Spain and Italy),” Deschamps told a news conference on Monday.
“Today there is optimism, there are even big expectations ahead of the Germany game.”
If they are to avoid defeat against a depleted Germany side, France will need to be at their level best and not rest on their laurels.
“We must build on our self-confidence, not rest on it because if we do so, we could get slapped on Wednesday,” Deschamps, who skippered France to their 1998 world and 2000 European titles, explained.
Midfielder Moussa Sissoko acknowledged that France had gained respect since their performances against Spain and Italy.
“The way the other players look at us has changed since the Spain game,” he told reporters.
“We went there without pressure and we came close to victory, which was a very good result, and then we beat Italy. Let’s try to stay on that path.”
Deschamps has no injury concern going into Wednesday’s showdown.
Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar