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Portugal is team to avoid: Deschamps

Updated: 2013-10-17 07:14
By Agence France-Presse in Paris ( China Daily)

France coach Didier Deschamps said Portugal was the team to avoid in the European zone World Cup qualifying playoffs ahead of Monday's draw.

France was assured of its place even before Tuesday's 3-0 final Group I victory over Finland at Stade de France.

It still retained a faint hope of snatching top spot but that would have needed Spain to lose at home to Georgia, something that never looked likely.

Due to its FIFA ranking, France will not even be seeded in the draw, meaning Portugal, Greece, Croatia and Ukraine are its potential opponents.

Asked if there was anyone he'd like to avoid, Deschamps said: "It's legitimate to say Portugal because they have Cristiano Ronaldo, who's a great player and a big influence.

"But playing Greece, Croatia or Ukraine, they're more collective but not easier or simpler to play.

"Of course, I know some better than others but I haven't started analyzing our future opponents."

Deschamps couldn't help but grumble about the seeding system which has denied his team potentially easier draws against Iceland, Romania or Sweden.

France was in the only five-team group in qualifying, meaning it had two fewer games than the other second -placed finishers in which to gain ranking points that could have made it seeded.

"We missed out on being seeded by one point to Ukraine, we've been a bit penalized but we'll take the opponent we draw," said the former Marseille, Monaco and Juventus coach.

"It's (FIFA) who decide, so they'll decide. We've expressed our point of view that it's a bit unfair being in a group of five and having two matches less. We don't get the points that we need for the FIFA ranking."

Looking at the positives from its victory over Finland, Deschamps said the team had left off from its previous match with Australia, a 6-0 friendly thrashing on Friday, and the second half of its qualifier with Belarus last month that saw it score four goals to turn a 1-0 halftime deficit into a 4-2 win.

"That's what we looked for in scoring three goals, even if we could have scored more as we hit the bar and post," he said.

"The score could have been more severe, even though in the first half they got behind us twice and they had a good chance at the start of the second.

"Although when you attack it leaves space for opponents, we mostly carried on from where we left off on Friday in terms of our play, our mobility, speed; we did many good things, created good situations, we had a good collective."

Finland coach Mixu Paatelainen said if France played like that again, it would almost certainly progress from the playoffs.

"I give credit to France, who really played well and scored a great (opening) goal," he said.

(China Daily 10/17/2013 page22)

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