Deschamps relishing moment as pride restored to France

France ended a long wait for an important win over Germany on Thursday but the prospect of a Euro 2016 final against Portugal this weekend means celebrations - for the players at least - will be kept to a minimum.

"We have three days before the final, it's very short so we have to savour this victory," coach Didier Deschamps said after defeating Germany 2-0 in Marseille.

"It's an important step forward but the most important step is Sunday. We're going to do everything in our power to go in to Sunday's game in the best possible condition."

Portugal, and Cristiano Ronaldo, are waiting in the Stade de France final which could mark the end of a long, long journey for Les Bleus to reach the top once more.

After winning the home European Championships of 1984, it was a generation until Deschamps captained the side to World Cup and Euro glory in 1998 and 2000.

"I had my share (of finals) as a player. I'm very proud as a coach and proud of my players – it's not that I'm not happy personally but it's mainly for the players," Deschamps said.

"When I wore this shirt it was the proudest moment of my career. There should be nothing above the French shirt for the players; perhaps that's not always been the case but they're now very aware of what they can give to people when they're wearing this shirt for."

Few countries can do squad drama like the French. They returned home from the 2010 World Cup in disgrace after players went on strike against coach Raymond Domenech and even the run-up to Euro 2016 was marred by the suspension of Karim Benzema over his part in a blackmail scandal.

But winning has a tendency to tighten the bonds both within a squad and between the squad and the country at large. Long after the final whistle, thousands were celebrating on the streets of Marseille and countless more were doing likewise in Paris.

Defeated Germany coach Joachim Loew backed the hosts to go all the way and lift the trophy, saying Portugal "haven’t convinced me that much so far," but Fernando Santos' side are now unbeaten in 13 competitive games.

They have won only once in regular time at the Euros though and superstar Ronaldo has not always been at his best.

"We have our chances and so do Portugal. As host nation, and because we've knocked out Germany, that doesn't give us extra powers," Deschamps said. "We believe in ourselves; so do Portugal."

France had not beaten Germany at a major finals since 1958 and suffered semi-final heartbreak against their old rivals in 1982 and 1986.

Righting that particular wrong will carry only a bittersweet pleasure though should the job not be finished on Sunday.

"We've already (made history). It was a long time since we'd beaten Germany but that didn't mean anything today," Deschamps said. "We're into the final and there's a trophy up for grabs."

Last update: Fri, 08/07/2016 - 10:14
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