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Feb 7, 2013

Deschamps positive despite defeat

Didier Deschamps remained upbeat and insisted there were plenty of positives to build on despite France letting the lead slip to lose 2-1 to Germany in Wednesday's friendly in Paris.

Following a draw in their 2014 World Cup qualifier in Spain in October and a victory over Euro 2012 runners-up Italy in November, expectations were high Deschamps' men could claim another major scalp at the Stade de France and remain on the upward trajectory they have enjoyed under their new coach.

Despite going in front through Mathieu Valbuena, however, two slips from Les Bleus allowed Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira to give the Nationalmannschaft a first victory over France since 1987.

Though damaging to morale a month-and-a-half before meeting Spain again, Deschamps saw plenty to please him.

"We did some good things, notably going forward," he said. "Having said that, we made mistakes, such as when we lost the ball for the first goal. They're able to go forward quickly. We pushed right to the end, but it just didn't go for us. We mustn't just discard everything we've done, on the contrary. We gave as good as we got for a good part of the match, and unfortunately we lost."

With Franck Ribery often troubling the visiting team - whose starting line-up featured three of his Bayern Munich team-mates - France did create chances, though only found the net through Valbuena's header just before the break.

Though he struck a free-kick which smashed against the bar and brought about Valbuena's opener, Karim Benzema - Deschamps' first-choice striker - has now not scored in 839 minutes of international football, while Etienne Capoue's surrender of possession which led to Muller's equaliser, and Patrice Evra's ill-advised attempt to play Khedira offside in the move that brought the winner, provided disconcerting food for thought.

"We have to improve in terms of our efficiency in front of goal. And avoid commiting certain errors, such as we did this evening. When I look at how many caps each German had tonight, we're still a long way off. That's the top level of football. We were punished for our mistakes," Deschamps said.

"I'd asked the players to push onto them, we did it a little too much and whenever there was the slightest bit of space, we suffered given the collective quality of the German side. They're very mobile, and you have to find the right balance between pressing them high or not."

The player who embodied the difference between the two teams was Mesut Ozil. At his probing, menacing best, the Real Madrid man produced a stunning through ball for Khedira to score Germany's second 16 minutes from time. Deschamps acknowledged Les Bleus had been unable to get to grips with the former Werder Bremen player.

"He's a great player from whom it's difficult to get the ball. He always puts himself between the midfield and the defence. This evening, I had confirmation he's in great form," he said. "We were opened up, because Ozil was always between our back four and the midfield."

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