France coach Raymond Domenech refused to be downcast despite losing 1-0 at home to Argentina last night in front of a record crowd of 79,862 for an international in Paris.
"I saw some good things from my team," said Domenech, for whom this was a third defeat in 35 games in charge. "We showed plenty of willing putting moves together, but we failed in the decisive areas - the last pass, our finishing. Every defeat must be considered in the light of who you were up against, and we faced strong opponents."
Argentina, third in the FIFA rankings, overcame the second-placed team thanks to a goal from the former AS Monaco FC forward Javier Saviola. France dominated possession throughout but were kept under control by Alfio Basile's three-man defensive midfield, and harassed by the brilliant Gabriel Milito. "They did not give us one inch of space and took the ball away from us too quickly," said Les Bleus captain Patrick Vieira.
David Trezeguet, who had a shot well saved by Roberto Abbondanzieri in the first half, finally fulfilled a personal ambition by tackling Argentina, having spent most of his first 15 years in the Buenos Aires suburbs. "Regardless of the score, it has been an honour to play against Argentina for the first time," he said. "I have been waiting for this game for a long time."
A second meeting of the sides is to be scheduled during the next two years, but while France were found wanting against Argentina, Domenech maintained they would be fighting fit when they take on Lithuania in Kaunas in UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying on 24 March. "My players will show a lot more urgency, I'm sure," he said. "Of course no one can be happy after a defeat but I saw this game as preparation for Lithuania and I'm sure we'll score over there because we have to take the points." France are level with Scotland on nine points at the top of Group B after four matches.
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