5 September 2014 17:00
Didier Deschamps will be keen to see further signs of France’s evolution when the Euro 2016 hosts meet Serbia on Sunday.
Deschamps’ men were impressive en route to the quarter-finals of the World Cup and continued their good form with a 1-0 win friendly over Spain on Thursday, thanks to a second-half strike from Loic Remy at the Stade de France.
That win stands, along with 5-2 demolition of Switzerland at the World Cup, as one of the best results in recent memory for France.
However, Deschamps is eager to ensure his team do not plateau with no competitive fixtures until their Euro 2016 opener in 2016.
The victory over Spain may have only been a friendly, but Deschamps was eager to play up the importance of the win as France build for a home competition for the first time since their successful 1998 World Cup campaign.
“It’s [Euro 2016] still far away but we had not beaten Spain in eight years,” Deschamps said.
“It’s not nothing and it should give us more confidence.”
And that self-belief should stand France in good stead against a Serbia side that is starting a new era under recently appointed coach Dick Advocaat.
Former Netherlands boss Advocaat was handed the job in July, replacing the departed Sinisa Mihajlovic, who resigned following Serbia’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.
Serbia missed out on a place in the qualification play-offs for the 2014 tournament by just three points, but have plenty of top-level European quality in their squad, with the likes of Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov and Roma playmaker Adem Ljajic all in contention to face France.
France’s visit to Belgrade will serve as a key test of their credentials ahead of their opening Euro 2016 qualifiers with Armenia and Albania next month.
Advocaat has only had a short time to work with his new team, and conceded he would have liked another friendly clash to fully prepare his players for their first competitive outings under his stewardship.
“It is not ideal that some of my first 11 are not starters at their clubs and I would have also liked more than just one friendly to assess the squad,” Advocaat said.
“But five days of practice and the France game should still be enough because I have watched the videos of all Serbia’s games in the past two years and have a pretty clear vision where each player will be best used.”