SAINT-DENIS, France (Reuters) - France achieved their first goal of qualifying automatically for next year’s World Cup by beating Belarus 2-1 on Tuesday but they need to be more controlling if they are to win a second world title in Russia, according to coach Didier Deschamps.
Les Bleus won thanks to goals by Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud in the first half but endured a nervy finish after Belarus, who reduced the arrears on the stroke of half-time, came close twice to equalising from counter attacks.
“We did some things very well, but there are things we did not really control,” Deschamps told a news conference.
“We don’t manage to control the situation throughout a game, and we didn’t manage to control throughout the qualifying campaign.”
France will therefore not be among the top favourites in Russia next year, said Deschamps, who captained Les Bleus to their only world title on home soil in 1998.
“We have a lot of ambition but if we look at the other nations, there are two in Europe (Portugal, Germany) who are ahead of us, and one in South America (Brazil),” he said.
The 48-year-old added that he expected an improvement from his squad, who ended the qualifying campaign top of Group A with 24 points from a possible 30.
“We did not really hurt our opponents. It’s important that we learn to do that,” he said.
Deschamps has experimented with various attacking line-ups and gave no indication on his intentions eight months from the finals as Kylian Mbappe, Griezmann, Giroud, Alexandre Lacazette and others are vying for a spot in the starting eleven.
“It takes time to find the right balance in that department,” he said.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge