FIFA WC: Twice bitten France to keep Danes at bay

Having lost twice to Denmark recently, France will be taking nothing for granted when they look to secure their qualification for the knockout stages with a game to spare in Group D on Saturday.

The defending champions entered the tournament on the back of a dismal Nations League campaign, during which Denmark beat them 2-1 in Paris and 2-0 in Copenhagen.

“I’ve said on a number of occasions that they are underrated as a team. We’re talking about just a four-month period, we’re not talking about a long period, it’s between June and September where they beat us twice,” France captain and keeper Hugo Lloris told a news conference on Friday.

Even if the World Cup is another tournament altogether, Les Bleus have a fair idea of the problems Denmark, who back in 2002 struck the final blow in France’s terrible campaign with a 2-0 group-stage win, can cause them.

France started the Qatar tournament in style with a 4-1 win against Australia, but Denmark will be a sterner test at the 974 Stadium.

“It’s a different competition, but it gives you an idea of the level of this Danish team, it’s an excellent side and they are capable of beating the best. So it’s been a wake-up call for us and we can’t say that we don’t know them, and we don’t need any extra motivation at this stage of the tournament,” said Lloris.

France welcome back centre-back Raphael Varane, who has fully recovered from a hamstring injury and could bring his calm manner and experience to bear in the back four.

Coach Didier Deschamps, however, stopped short of saying the Manchester United player would start after staying on the bench against Australia.

“He was fit for the first one, he is not less so, or even a little more so, for the second. These are choices. He has the experience, that’s for sure,” he said.

“The most important thing is that he feels ready in his head and in his body. I know he is, I will make the decision.”

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