France not taking ‘underrated’ Denmark lightly
Having lost twice to Denmark recently, France will be taking nothing for granted when they look to secure their qualification for the knockout stages with a game to spare in Group D on Saturday.
The defending champions entered the tournament on the back of a dismal Nations League campaign, during which Denmark beat them 2-1 in Paris and 2-0 in Copenhagen.
"I've said on a number of occasions that they are underrated as a team. We're talking about just a four-month period, we're not talking about a long period, it's between June and September where they beat us twice," France captain and keeper Hugo Lloris told a news conference on Friday.
Even if the World Cup is another tournament altogether, Les Bleus have a fair idea of the problems Denmark, who back in 2002 struck the final blow in France's terrible campaign with a 2-0 group-stage win, can cause them.
France started the Qatar tournament in style with a 4-1 win against Australia, but Denmark will be a sterner test at the 974 Stadium.
"It's a different competition, but it gives you and idea of the level of this Danish team, it's an excellent side and they are capable of beating the best. So it's been a wake-up call for us and we can't say that we don't know them, and we don't need any extra motivation at this stage of the tournament," said Lloris.
Meanwhile, Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said his team must find another gear against France today. The Danes were held to a goalless draw by Tunisia in their first game.
"Tomorrow's [Saturday] game is obviously an important one for us after the start we had. It's an opponent who belongs at the very, very top of football. The quality and talent they have in France at the moment is spectacular," Hjulmand told reporters on Friday.
"The way they played (against Australia) was also a bit different than the two games [in the Nations League] we played against them. I have great respect for France, but I also know how strong we are. We've tested them a few times.
"Obviously this is a new tournament, a bigger tournament. But we know that if we play our very best, we have a chance of getting a good result, and that's what we're aiming for. To be able to do that, we have to take a big step forward in the quality from the first match."
Meanwhile, France welcome back centre back Raphael Varane, who has fully recovered from a hamstring injury and could bring his calm manner and experience to bear in the back four.