France manager Didier Deschamps believes they need to sharpen up when they play the Netherlands on Sunday in their first home match since winning the World Cup in July following their goalless draw away to Germany.
The French seemed to be nursing a post-victory hangover when they faced Germany in Munich on Thursday in their first outing since the final, creating only a few chances in the Nations League game compared to their opponents' half dozen.
The Germans were eager for redemption after their shock World Cup group stage exit while France at times looked content with a draw. “We can do it better,” Deschamps said. “We are returning home (for Sunday’s game in Paris) but we need to be more efficient.
We ran out of steam towards the end and obviously the entire squad is not yet at the peak of their form. Not at this time of the season.”
France’s passing was far from accurate and they seemed to lack pace, with forwards Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, who were so dynamic at the World Cup in Russia, posing no real threat for most of the game.
It was unlikely, however, that France would instantly pick up where they left off in July, with their players having had limited pre-season preparation following their lengthy World Cup campaign.
Deschamps’ team can expect days of festivities when they return to Paris but the players will know they need to pick up three points from their next Nations League match as well as put on a show for the French fans.
“It will be a great feeling because it will be our first match in France since we won the title,” Giroud said. "But we know we have to get the three points against the Dutch to stay in contention in the Nations League.”
The Nations League, brainchild of European soccer body UEFA, aims to boost interest in international football and features all 55 of Europe’s national teams divided into four divisions split into four groups, with games played between September and November.