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Football | France

France must keep it up - Deschamps



France coach Didier Deschamps has urged his players to confirm the promise they displayed in holding world champions Spain to a draw when they take on Italy in a friendly on Wednesday.

Last month the French grabbed a late goal to hold the world champions to a 1-1 stalemate in a crucial 2014 World Cup qualifier last month.

The draw in Madrid brought to an end Spain's run of 24 consecutive wins in qualifying matches that stretched back to 2007 and left the two sides neck and neck at the top of their qualifying group.

Deschamps now wants his players to show similar resilience and fortitude against the Italians in this closing international run out of the year ahead of the resumption of qualifying for Brazil next March.

"Everyone is waiting for that, above all me," said Deschamps, who spent five years as a player and one as a manager, of Juventus, in Italy, here on Tuesday.

"I don't want to prejudge the result.

"It's a high level encounter, the last of the year. We are facing a top quality rival but I want to see huge commitment from my players.

"It's important that tomorrow we confirm what we showed in Spain - that we produce the best play possible but above all I want to see the team give their all.

"There were lots of good aspects (of our game) in Spain, we have to continue with that."

As for returning to the country he called home for so long the 1998 World Cup winning captain reflected: "I spent six years of my life in Italy, five as a player and one as a coach. I've always said that I was happy here, I felt very very good (in Italy), on both the human and professional side of things.

"But I was born French and I remain French even if I retain positive memories from my time abroad, especially when one has the chance of winning titles."

Wednesday's encounter between the two sides who faced off in the 2006 World Cup final is the latest in the two countries' intense rivalvry, with Deschamps noting: "It's a friendly but it's true there is a rivalry even if it's less than in the past when there were lots of players who played in Italy.

"But it's like any fixture against England, Brazil or Germany, there is more expectation. It's only a friendly but the result will be important."

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