France wants to extend rebound in Nations League final

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Spaniard Koke, left, jokes with his teammates during Spain’s training session ahead of Sunday’s UEFA Nations League final between Spain and France at the Interello sports center, in Milan, Italy on Saturday, October 9, 2021 (AP Photo / Luca Bruno)

PA

After a few difficult months, France are hopeful that their Nations League victory over Belgium will be the spark of a recovery ahead of the final against Spain in Milan on Sunday.

An incredible return to Turin on Thursday saw France recover from two goals to beat Belgium 3-2 thanks to a last-minute goal from Theo Hernández.

It was only France’s second victory after a streak of five consecutive draws for Didier Deschamps’ side, who had a poor campaign in the European Championship.

“Mentally speaking we were pretty depressed lately and needed a key game to get us back on track,” France captain Hugo Lloris said on Saturday. “And against Belgium, everything was there to regain confidence.

“That was the case in the second half and I hope it helps us start the game tomorrow with the best of intentions. And I really hope we see a big face from France. It will be difficult … it will be it’s up to us to do whatever we can on the ground.

France, world champions, were one of the favorites of Euro 2020 but, despite a team full of talent, the Blues failed to set the tournament on fire and only won one match. – the first match against Germany. They lost a penalty shootout to Switzerland in the round of 16, after leading 3-1 with 15 minutes remaining.

It looked like more disappointment was in the Nations League semi-finals on Thursday when France ended up 2-0 at half-time against Belgium, but an outstanding performance in the second half allowed them to to reserve a place in the final.

“We have been looking to rediscover these kinds of feelings in recent months, especially after the loss to Switzerland at the Euro, and I think this victory against Belgium was more than welcome for French football,” said Lloris.

“It’s always a special moment to play a final for your country, even if this competition doesn’t look like a World Cup or a Euro, but it’s still a trophy to be won.

This is only the second edition of the UEFA Nations League and although the tournament is not held in the highest regard, the quality of the football has been nothing short of spectacular.

France’s thrilling victory was preceded the day before by Spain’s entertaining 2-1 victory over European champions Italy. The match was played at a breathtaking pace before Leonardo Bonucci was sent off for the Azzurri shortly before half-time.

Ferran Torres scored both goals for Spain to help his side end Italy’s 37-game unbeaten streak and reach their first final since Euro 2012.

“For many of us, this is the first time we’ve played a final with the national team. So it would be fantastic to lift our first trophy, ”said Torres. “We are a very young team and tomorrow we will do everything to be able to reach this trophy.

“We play as a team and I think that’s our strong point.”

Spain’s strength will have to counter the individual brilliance of France’s star attack: Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema.

Torres faces a race against time to get fit. He was forced to leave four minutes after the start of the second half against Italy after receiving a blow.

“I’m an optimistic guy and I honestly think I have a chance to play against France,” Torres said. “I didn’t train today, I will do it tomorrow. We’re all going to evaluate it and then we’ll see.

France and Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot will miss the game after testing positive for coronavirus. The rest of the team then underwent further testing, all of which came back negative.

Earlier on Sunday, Belgium faced Italy in the third-place match in Turin. Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Thomas Foket left the Belgian squad after being injured.


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