Deschamps: Japan have made great progress

The French coach says Friday’s friendly with the Samurai Blue will be a difficult contest and responds to Zaccheroni’s remarks that they are among the top five nations in the world

Didier Deschamps has responded to claims that his France team have an advantage over Spain for their upcoming clash on Tuesday night.

Les Bleus take on Japan in a friendly tonight while La Roja takes on Belarus in a World Cup Group I qualifying match. The French coach has warned that Japan will prove stiff competition.

The last time France and Japan clashed was in 2001 with the hosts romping home 5-0 winners at the Stade de France, but Deschamps believes the Samurai Blue have improved since then.

“That was a very long time ago, this is a nation that has made great progress, just look at their Fifa ranking (23rd),” he told L'Equipe.

The 43-year-old had some kind words for his opposite number Alberto Zaccheroni and said he expects them to be well organised and disciplined.

He said: “They have the ability to compete with a lot of intensity, everybody runs, everybody defends. There is little space, they will play together. This is not a defensive team. With the players they have they can also be dangerous."

Responding to Zaccheroni’s claims that France are still one of the top five nations in world football he added: “Perhaps in the eyes of the world and of Europe, France is still seen as a nation with footballing talent, but we have to watch our Fifa ranking.”

The former Juventus midfielder commented on Spain’s clash tonight saying: “They have a match where points are at stake. They have an obligation to get a result, but I will not say we do not.”