Deschamps stands firm on team changes


Didier Deschamps has defended his latest team selection and intends to continue making changes after guiding France into the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

Les Bleus initially struggled in the round of 16 in Lyon on Sunday, falling behind to an early Republic of Ireland penalty and trailing 1-0 at the break.

The coach took off N'Golo Kante for Kingsley Coman and changed from a 4-3-3 formation to a 4-2-3-1 in the second half, a switch that bore major dividends, as France came from behind to win 2-1 and book their spot in the last eight.

Deschamps has come under scrutiny for a perceived lack of clarity over his preferred starting XI, but he rejected out of hand the suggestion his use of Blaise Matuidi against Ireland was a "failed gamble".

"I don't gamble with my system," he told a news conference. 

"I take these decisions based on discussions with my players but when things don't work out it's my fault. I take responsibility for that. Maybe we shouldn't have started this way, who knows?

"My substitutes can always contribute, not just tactically. It's about willpower and determination. We needed to shake things up. In the second half we saw more fluidity."

A match against England or Iceland awaits at Stade de France next Sunday, when, according to Deschamps, there is no guarantee man of the match Antoine Griezmann will retain the central role from which he won the game in the second half against Ireland.

"I know that Antoine normally plays up front but he's been good for us out wide as well," Deschamps said.

"He showed his skill and [effectiveness] in front of goal. You need to find a good balance and we were balanced in the second half. 

"That was the choice I made today and I might do it again. As I did against Romania with Anthony Martial playing and with Dimitri [Payet] in the middle. I've got some time to think about it."

Deschamps insisted the options presented by his versatile squad is an advantage, citing the example of Croatia as a lesson to be learned, after they exited the competition at the hands of Portugal despite sticking with a relatively settled starting XI. 

"I've got 23 players here, they're all available," he said.

"Just look at the German team, they've changed things around a lot. 

"The only team who didn't change things around were Croatia. People said they were going to make the final. It doesn't always go as you think it will go. 

"Our opponents only have to look on the TV to see [how] we're going to play, they will know. It's important to have different solutions."