The 2018 World Cup winners threw away a two-goal lead late on in the last 16 before eventually coming unstuck in a penalty shootout
Didier Deschamps is prepared to shoulder the blame for France’s Euro 2020 failings, with the reigning world champions suffering a shock last-16 defeat to Switzerland in a contest that they dominated.
Les Bleus, who were looking to add a continental crown to the global one they secured in 2018, looked to be easing into the quarter-finals when holding a 3-1 lead over the Swiss with nine minutes left to play.
However, they suffered a late collapse, with an uncharacteristic capitulation completed when Kylian Mbappe fluffed his lines from the spot and a penalty shootout defeat was confirmed.
What has been said?
Speaking for the first time since seeing his team slip out of a major international tournament that many expected them to win, Deschamps told L’Equipe: “The hardest thing to digest – and I am only just doing that now – is knowing what we are capable of doing and seeing what we have done.
“And, I’ll say it again, to be 3-1 up in the 80th minute against Switzerland and see what happened afterwards…
“Solidity has always been our DNA. At 3-3, there is inevitably some nervousness but everything remains possible.
“There is the opportunity of [Kingsley] Coman and the ball which hits the bar. You have to be realistic. At 3-1, not a person in the stadium, or elsewhere, will have said we were not going to qualify.
“I don’t want to look for excuses. I know that I am the only one in charge. When everything is going well, all is not rosy, and when things are going badly, all is not black either.
“Our elimination is linked to many elements. It is my responsibility. The initial tactical choice did not work. Making three changes is not a mistake, it is a choice. I know what got me to that point.”
Should Benzema have stayed on?
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who was brought back in from the international wilderness for Euro 2020, helped to put France in control against Switzerland with two well-taken goals.
He was, however, replaced by Olivier Giroud in extra-time and was not on the field to a take a penalty in the shootout.
Quizzed on whether he has any regrets there, Deschamps added: “Karim had nothing to do with it. Everything he had to do, he did it very well.
“I had to change the team for different reasons. I know that is not an ideal scenario. But we were 3-1 up in the 80th minute and what had been our strength to that point, we lacked.
“I could have done things differently, yes. But we were 3-1 up in the 80th minute. Neither he nor I can go back.”