Bulgaria vs France - Deschamps keeps his cool ahead of France's crucial clash

Posted Saturday, October 07, 2017 by PA

Didier Deschamps insists he is not feeling the pressure ahead of France's vital World Cup qualifying clash in Bulgaria on Saturday.

Les Bleus sit top of Group A by a point with two games to go but results such as the 0-0 draw at home to Luxembourg last month have made life difficult.

Deschamps knows a victory over Bulgaria coupled with three points at home to Belarus on Tuesday will secure qualification to Russia 2018.

However, with second-placed Sweden ready to pounce on any further slip-up, the 48-year-old could be forgiven for thinking the worst.

Speaking at a pre-match press conference, the France boss said: "Sincerely I do not feel any special pressure. My personal case never concerned me.

"I do not think of myself. I take care of my players. I do everything with my staff to put the players in the best conditions, to achieve the goal that is ours.

"We are aware that this is a very important match but we have not changed anything in the week."

France will be missing Layvin Kurzawa after the Paris St Germain defender pulled out of the squad with a sprained ligament in his left knee.

Deschamps is already missing Paul Pogba, Laurent Koscielny, Benjamin Mendy and Ousmane Dembele as the qualification campaign draws to a close.

Les Bleus have an abundance of options up front, though, and the main problem appears to be fitting in the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar.

France captain Hugo Lloris has urged whoever starts the game to learn from their earlier mistakes in the group.

The Tottenham goalkeeper said: "From the first minutes of the match we have to show Bulgaria that we are here to win.

"We must not create a negative atmosphere. We can't be put to sleep by the environment and must be enterprising from the start of the match."

Bulgaria, who are five points adrift of France, have a slim chance of qualifying having picked up all 12 of their points on home soil.

Bulgaria boss Petar Hubchev said: "Bulgaria is not a world power and it will be very difficult for us to qualify. We do not talk about what happens in two wins.

"Our behaviour is serious. We're trying to keep the guys focused on something big."

Ivelin Popov and Ivaylo Chochev are suspended but Hubchev revealed there are no other concerns within his squad.

He added: "We knew since the beginning of the week that we miss two important players. It is up to us to choose the best ones to replace them."

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