France out to prove they're world's best

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

France captain Hugo Lloris reckons his world champions are highly motivated to prove themselves against Europe's elite sides in the UEFA Nations League denouement even though the fledgling competition doesn't have the prestige of the major tournaments.

Les Bleus take on the world's top-ranked side Belgium on Thursday in a repeat of the 2018 World Cup semi-final for the right to play in Sunday's final against either European champions Italy or Spain, who reached the Euro 2020 semis.

"These are the best European teams, the level is very high and the fact they have qualified shows they are all in their best form," goalkeeper Lloris told a news conference on Wednesday ahead of the game at Juventus Stadium in Turin.

"It may not seem like a World Cup or a European Championship but a trophy is still at stake and the best sides in Europe are there. Belgium are a top team, we expect a real battle and will have to be focused."

Belgium did not take losing to France well in that semi-final in St Petersburg, with Thibaut Courtois describing them as an "anti-football" team while Eden Hazard also bemoaned their defensive tactics.

French coach Didier Deschamps played down the ill-feeling between the sides on Wednesday, insisting there was a "healthy rivalry" between the neighbours.

"A lot was said after that game, some of which was misinterpreted, but we have a lot of respect for them and (coach) Roberto Martinez. A lot of time has passed since then and another final is up for grabs now," he said.

"Players really enjoy these games when there's a lot at stake and there will be tomorrow. We did everything to reach this Final Four, we won in Portugal to earn our ticket here so we'll do everything to get to the final.

"Belgium are a quality side, it's a prestigious game and everyone is expecting a real show."

Belgium's Thorgan Hazard has been ruled out due to an ankle injury, and has been replaced by uncapped defender Arthur Theate.

The 21-year-old Bologna centre back was chosen as Hazard's replacement in the 24-man squad because Belgium also have concerns about the fitness of Jason Denayer, who is still trying to shrug off a muscle strain.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting