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Didier Deschamps: 'Antoine Griezmann is one of the greatest players ever'

Didier Deschamps: 'Antoine Griezmann is one of the greatest players ever'
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The Barcelona forward will make his 50th consecutive start for France on Saturday.

France boss Didier Deschamps has described Antoine Griezmann as "one of the greatest players of all time".

Barcelona forward Griezmann, 30, will make his 50th consecutive start for France on Saturday against Hungary in Budapest and his 93rd appearance in total under Deschamps.

"He (will) beat a record, you're right," Deschamps told a press conference.

Griezmann, second right, celebrates France's goal against Germany with his team-mates
Antoine Griezmann, second right, celebrates France's goal against Germany with his team-mates (Matthias Hangst/AP Pool)

"Above and beyond the fact that he's playing in consecutive games, and wonderfully so for him, for all his game-volume, he may not be 20 years old anymore, but he takes very good care of himself.

"He's a professional and he's managed to avoid the different injuries that he could have had. The statistics speak for themselves.

"You can see the influence that he has for the French national team, through the goals that he scores, through his assists.

"If we then add to that the capacity that he has to change the game, to get stuck in when we need to defend when we don't have the ball, he's one of the greatest players of all time, both in Europe and worldwide."

Les Bleus are bidding to emulate their national team's achievements of 1998 and 2000 when Deschamps captained them to both World Cup and Euro finals glory.

They will qualify for the round of 16 if they follow up their opening 1-0 Group F win against Germany with another victory.

"That is a possibility for us and that would be the first objective," Deschamps said. "And then there'll be a third game, but I go step-by-step.

"The first game of the group stages is always important, but it's never decisive and now it's even more important for us to think about our structure, our formation."

Defender Benjamin Pavard is fit to play despite being briefly knocked out during the win against Germany, while Bayern Munich team-mate Lucas Hernandez has recovered from a knock sustained in training.

Deschamps added: "Maybe we'll have the same team as against Germany, maybe we'll have a couple of changes, you'll find out tomorrow."

Hungary were more than a match for Portugal in their opening group game before conceding three late goals and Deschamps hailed the impact of their Italian coach Marco Rossi.

"I must say I'm surprised that he even knows who I am, let alone rates me, but of course, I'm very pleased about that.

"We're talking about the coach who has won the World Cup, someone who has won a great deal and will continue to win trophies.

"That creates expectation. We're well aware of who we're up against. France are clear favourites to win the competition, even though there are five or six teams at a similar level."

Former Brescia defender Rossi labelled France striker Kylian Mbappe as "out of this world".

Rossi added: "We need to produce a perfect performance tomorrow from every perspective. We need to make sure and hope France are off their game, otherwise it will be very difficult."

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A general shot of a Premier League football ahead of the Premier League clash between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on October 30, 2016
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Friday's key events

· The athletics schedule begins, with 100m sprinter Dina Asher-Smith among the names in action on the opening day. The men's 10,000m final concludes the action, with Team GB's Sam Atkin and Marc Scott taking part in the absence of 2012 and 2016 champion Sir Mo Farah (1am-2.30pm)

· Victoria Thornley is Team GB's representative in the women's single sculls final (1.33am)
· Great Britain will be going for gold in the men's eight final (2.25am)

· Team GB duo Molly Renshaw and Abbie Wood take part in the women's 200m breaststroke final, but new Olympic record-holder Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa is the hot favourite (2.41am)
· Luke Greenbank has very realistic ambitions of picking up a medal in the men's 200m backstroke final (2.50am)
· There is also British representation in the women's 100m freestyle final, although any medal for Anna Hopkin would be a surprise (2.59am)
· With one gold and one silver already under his belt at these Games, Duncan Scott goes again in the men's 200m individual medley final (3.16am)

· Bryony Page will be looking to repeat her 2016 heroics in the women's event (5am-7.30pm)

· Bradley Forbes-Cryans will be looking to emulate Rio gold medallist Joe Clarke in the men's kayak event (6am-9am)

· The women's tournament enters the quarter-finals, with Great Britain facing Australia at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium (10am)

> Today's schedule in full
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