We can limit “outstanding” Messi, says France coach Deschamps
France have a number of options to limit Lionel Messi’s influence in their round of 16 clash against Argentina but they are also resigned that he could turn the match in an instant, coach Didier Deschamps said on Friday.
Messi has yet to light up the World Cup in a stuttering Argentina side but his clinical strike in the 2-1 win over Nigeria underlined the danger the Barcelona forward will present Deschamp’s side at Kazan Arena on Saturday.
France will look to boss the midfield in a bid to limit supply to the lethal 31-year-old, who has struggled to impose himself in the tournament, and hope their defence can continue to hold firm after conceding only one goal in the group phase.
Deschamps said full back Benjamin Mendy, who returned as a second half substitute in the 0-0 draw against Denmark after missing the opening games against Australia and France, had been ruled out with a “small muscle injury”.
France may face more queries up forward, however, where their array of attacking talents have yet to dominate.
Striker Antoine Griezmann is under pressure to lift after being off the pace in the dull Denmark draw, and he has only got on the scoresheet with a penalty in the opening 2-1 win over Australia.
Captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris backed Griezmann to make his mark at the tournament.
Although sailing through the group phase, the scoreless draw against Denmark raised concerns about Les Bleus’ momentum heading into the Argentina blockbuster.
Lloris said his team was only looking ahead.