MX23RW : Monday, July 26 01:08:05| >> :600:482260:482260:
Jun 23, 2021 at 8pm UK at Puskás Aréna
Ronaldo (31' pen., 60' pen.)
FT(HT: 1-1)
Benzema (45+2' pen., 47')
Lloris (27'), Hernandez (36'), Griezmann (40'), Kimpembe (83')

Didier Deschamps: 'I have every faith in Karim Benzema'

Didier Deschamps: 'I have every faith in Karim Benzema'
© Reuters
Wednesday's clash is a repeat of the 2016 final in France - which Portugal won.

France boss Didier Deschamps insists he has “faith” that Karim Benzema will break his goal duck soon at Euro 2020.

The striker has not found the back of the net since returning to the squad following a long international exile.

Benzema scored 30 goals for Real Madrid last season but after four matches for France without a goal, some are starting to question whether Deschamps’ decision to bring back the 33-year-old was the right one.

Some observers think Benzema’s return to partner Kylian Mbappe in attack at the expense of Olivier Giroud has disturbed the balance of the team.

Germany France Euro 2020 Soccer
France manager Didier Deschamps still has faith in striker Karim Benzema (Franck Fife/AP)

France play Portugal in their final group game on Wednesday and ahead of the clash Deschamps told “Strikers live and feed off goals.

“Karim is carrying a heavy burden despite his experience. He has a responsibility, the same as Giroud three years ago at the World Cup.

“The most important thing is that I have every faith in him and so, too, does the entire squad. There are times when strikers don’t score goals. They are judged on whether they score or not.”

Benzema’s last international goal came against Armenia in August 2015, before a six-year absence for his role in an alleged blackmail plot against team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

His return appeared set to strengthen France but he has been frustrated in the two warm-up friendlies and two Group F games against Germany and Hungary.

Fellow France forward Antoine Griezmann echoed the sentiments of his manager, saying: “We all support him and have confidence in him.

“The staff and players alike want him to be in the best position possible. We hope his goal comes quickly but we have to be patient.”

France, after victory against Germany and a draw with Hungary, have the luxury of knowing that they are through to the knockout stages following Tuesday’s results.

Les Bleus will finish first if they win, or if they draw and Germany do not beat Hungary. If France lose and Hungary win, second place will be decided on goal difference.

Deschamps will be without forward Ousmane Dembele after he was ruled out for the rest of Euro 2020 with a knee injury.

Defending European champions Portugal head into the match in a perilous position following their 4-2 defeat to Germany, with third place in the group not even guaranteed should they lose to France.

Portugal will go through if they avoid defeat, and they will finish first if they win and Germany do not.

Portugal boss Fernando Santo
Portugal boss Fernando Santos knows his team have work to do (Mike Egerton/PA)

However, midfielder Joao Moutinho is not interested in the various permutations, saying: “It’s hypothetical whether we finish first, second or third. Our focus is on winning.

“We have our fate in our own hands. Our path is visible and we know what we have to do.”

Portugal boss Fernando Santos believes his team will bounce back and be themselves against France on Wednesday night.

“We’ve analysed the Germany game and come to the conclusion we weren’t playing the Portuguese brand of football,” said Santos.

“Something is wrong if a team that has conceded three goals in game only once in 58 games, concedes four for the first time. You need to both attack and defend well. The players will react well.”

Joao Felix and Nuno Mendes both missed the defeat in Munich but have since trained with the rest of the squad.

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