France vs. Ukraine

France players 'pretend to get along'

November 18, 2013
By Ian Holyman, France Correspondent

The French Football Federation president has suggested the spirit in Didier Deschamps' squad is not what it should be with Les Bleus facing World Cup disappointment.

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Having witnessed his country's 2-0 defeat in Ukraine in the first leg of their playoff on Friday, Noel Le Graet spoke to Deschamps' men on Sunday morning, and -- according to numerous French media sources -- told them: "You pretend to get along together."

Le Graet also warned the players to "think about volunteers in French football, the Federation's employees and the consequences of elimination" ahead of Tuesday's second leg at the Stade de France.

In an interview with L'Equipe, the 71-year-old added: "I went to say hello to them. More seriously, they were very attentive. It's very good to speak to each other. It's even logical, it seems to me, in such a situation. I told them what I thought. If my speech was able to get through to them a little, all the better. But words will not be enough."

Uncertainty remains over whether Raphael Varane will be fit enough to take his place in the side as the Real Madrid defender struggles to overcome a knee injury that ruled him out of the first leg.

Deschamps will have to make at least one change to his starting lineup with Laurent Koscielny suspended following his red card in Kiev but, more than a switch in personnel, the former France captain wants to see a difference in his players' performance.

"They had a team who played a top-level game, while we only played a match, an ordinary match. We need to play a total game in terms of commitment, effort, in every sector of the game. That doesn't mean we go all-out. We have to be ready to deliver an out-of-the-ordinary match," Deschamps told the press at Clairefontaine.

"For the players to believe they can do it, the first one who has to believe that is me. We have to have the idea that it's possible. It's asking a lot, but it's possible."

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