France vs. Japan  0 - 1

Article

France scalp no achievement, says Kagawa

13 October 2012 16:18

Shinji Kagawa has played down Japan's 1-0 victory over France, insisting his side have achieved nothing yet despite recording a famous win.

A late goal from the Manchester United midfielder saw Japan win in Paris but the 23-year-old has told his team-mates they have a lot to improve on before they are at a similar level to their opposition.

He told reporters: "It's an important result. Right now I'm in a tight spot with the team so I wanted to find some confidence. As a team we still have to improve, and it was a friendly so (Franck) Ribery didn't start, so if you think about it calmly there isn't quite a sense of having achieved anything."

The visitors stole the victory with a counterattack from a wasted set-piece from Les Bleus, and Kagawa revealed keeping the score level at half-time and waiting for an opening in the second period was always the game plan.

"We couldn't get the ball, and all of France's players are talented and skilled so we kept losing the one-on-ones," he said.

"In the first half our line got pulled back and we weren't able to attack, and we felt the pressure of playing away.

"We were confident we could move the ball around but then the game started and it wasn't that simple so more than anything it was huge for us to end the half scoreless.

"Zac (Alberto Zaccheroni) told us to push our line up, but also that the players on the sides were struggling on defence so to make sure we supported them. Also he told us to get behind their full backs when we had the ball."

Article

Japan defeat hurts Deschamps

13 October 2012 11:58

France coach Didier Deschamps was left hurting after his team's 1-0 loss to Japan in a friendly on Friday.

An 88th-minute goal from Shinji Kagawa was all that separated the two sides at Stade de France, giving Japan a surprise win.

Deschamps, whose team face Spain in a vital World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, was upset after losing a friendly he felt France deserved to win.

"It hurts. It is unfair in regards of everything we have done, but we were not offensively good enough and could not score the first goal," he said.

"I knew the Japanese team and they were very generous on the pitch, acting selflessly. It was 0-0 and we left some spaces and there were a lot of changes which can throw off the squad.

"The result is tough obviously, but during the first and second half we had plenty of chances.

"Whenever we were not off target the goalkeeper (Eiji Kawashima) made an incredible save. It happens sometimes in football. It is not always the team who plays the best that wins."

Despite having the likes of Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud and Jeremy Menez at his disposal, Deschamps' side were unable to find a goal.

Former Marseille coach Deschamps said he had already turned his attention to the clash against Spain.

"I always hate losing even if sometimes we do not do what we have to and the opponent is better, but that was not the case tonight and it hurts even more," he said.

"I am disappointed for the players because of all the hard work they have put in. We did not have the benefit of scoring tonight, so now we know what we have to face.

"It is time to get ready to recover quickly in order to be prepared for the game on Tuesday."

Deschamps said his team would not create as many chances against Spain and warned they would need to be more clinical when they face the reigning world and European champions.

"We did have a lot of chances to score and, for sure, we will not have so many against Spain," he said.

"Obviously in this kind of game we have to defend well too, and be able to find the efficiency that we did not have tonight for each chance we get."

Article

International friendly preview: France v Japan

12 October 2012 09:52

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni is eager for his players to make an impression against France in Paris on Friday.

Zaccheroni has named a full-strength squad, including Manchester United striker Shinji Kagawa, for the friendly at Stade de France against Didier Deschamps' side.

Japan have never beaten France - a record Zaccheroni says must change if the four-time Asian champions are to continue to build and make a strong showing at the 2014 World cup in Brazil.

"By playing against strong teams that lead Europe and South America, I hope we can gain valuable experience of international-level battles that will help us grow further," Zaccheroni said.

"There are more players I wanted to call up who are not in the squad. That I have so many options shows how high the quality of Japanese football is now."

Japan, aiming to qualify for a fifth straight FIFA World Cup since their debut at France 1998, are leading Asia's Group B with 10 points with three wins and one draw. They will play their next qualifier away to Oman on November 14.

And Zaccheroni believes facing France will prove an important part of their preparation for the remainder of the World Cup qualification campaign, especially as Les Bleus appear to have recovered quickly from the dismal end to the Raymond Domenech era at the 2010 World Cup.

"I got the impression that France are a team well balanced between technical and physical aspects," Zaccheroni said.

"They have made a wonderful start under the stewardship of (Didier) Deschamps.

"Together with Paris Saint-Germain's strong showing, French football itself appears to be regaining an important position in Europe."

Deschamps has been forced to bring uncapped PSG midfielder Clement Chantome into his squad for the injured Lassana Diarra as he prepares his side to play Japan and then reigning World and European champions Spain in their World Cup qualifier on October 16.

Diarra injured his back in Anzhi Makhachkala's 2-0 win at Dynamo Moscow in the Russian Premier League on Sunday and was unable to finish the match.

Deschamps will be hopeful his players get through injury free for a clash with Spain at the Vicente Calderon that may be decisive in UEFA World Cup qualifying Group I.

Article

In-form forwards please Deschamps

10 October 2012 19:58

France coach Didier Deschamps has highlighted the importance of strikers Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema returning to form.

Former Montpellier man Giroud has endured a tough start to life with Arsenal, but grabbed his first goal of the season in the 3-1 English Premier League win at West Ham United on Saturday.

Benzema, meanwhile, opened his account for Real Madrid this season in a 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano and Deschamps feels it is vital his strikers are scoring goals.

"For their confidence is important that they have found their effectiveness," Deschamps told reporters.

"There are times where the attackers do not score, it is only short term. When it happens in seven or eight games they are criticised, but they still score regularly."

France entertain Japan in a friendly at the Stade de France on Friday before a clash against world and European champions Spain at Vicente Calderon next Tuesday in their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

Article

Nasri dropped from France squad

4 October 2012 16:04

Samir Nasri is the highest-profile absentee from the latest France squad along with two other surprise exclusions.

The Manchester City playmaker will play no part in the friendly against Japan on October 12 and the World Cup qualifier against fellow Group I opponents Spain, four days later.

Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila has also been dropped following a dip in form and demoted to the Under-21 squad, while Newcastle attacker Hatem Ben Arfa's absence is more surprising considering his excellent form in the Premier League.

France No.1 Hugo Lloris is included despite not having cemented a first-team spot at his new club, Tottenham, while fellow familiar faces such as Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Patrice Evra are also in the squad.

Arsenal duo Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud are involved, while Paris Saint-Germain have the most players named - Christophe Jallet, Mamadou Sakho, Blaise Matuidi and Jeremy Menez.

France squad: Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Mickael Landreau.

Defenders: Gael Clichy, Mathieu Debuchy, Patrice Evra, Christophe Jallet, Laurent Koscielny, Adil Rami, Mamadou Sakho, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye, Etienne Capoue, Lassana Diarra, Maxime Gonalons, Blaise Matuidi, Moussa Sissoko, Mathieu Valbuena.

Strikers: Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud, Bafetimbi Gomis, Jeremy Menez, Franck Ribery.