FIFA World Cup: Turn the heat down against ‘small teams’ and you’re in trouble, says France’s Dembele

Germany’s defeat by Japan, a day after Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina at the World Cup, goes to show that there cannot be any room for complacency against the so-called ‘small teams’, France forward Ousmane Dembele said on Wednesday.

France’s Ousmane Dembele.

France’s Ousmane Dembele. | Photo Credit: AP

Germany’s defeat by Japan, a day after Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina at the World Cup, goes to show that there cannot be any room for complacency against the so-called ‘small teams’, France forward Ousmane Dembele said on Wednesday.

Germany’s defeat by Japan, a day after Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina at the World Cup, goes to show that there cannot be any room for complacency against the so-called ‘small teams’, France forward Ousmane Dembele said on Wednesday.

Japan, like Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, came from behind to beat Germany in a frenzied finish in Group E for the second major upset after less than three full days of competition in Qatar.

“Huh? Oh yeah?,” Dembele said when told about the Germany vs Japan result at a news conference at France’s training camp.

The 25-year-old, who with the defending champions avoided such fate as it beat Australia 4-1 on Tuesday, said the big guns needed to be full on from start to finish, regardless of the opponent.

“In modern football there’s no small teams,” he said.

“If you turn down the intensity, you’re in trouble. Now everyone works a lot technically, tactically. We saw how Saudi Arabia were incredible from a tactical point of view.

“We also saw it ourselves against Denmark.”

France suffered two consecutive defeats by Denmark in the 2022 Nations League so there is no chance that it will take anything for granted when the two teams meet again in Group D on Saturday, even if the Danes struggled in its opener against Tunisia.

“We’re not going to rest on our laurels, we’re already fully focused on the Denmark game,” said centre back Dayot Upamecano, who expected a tougher challenge.

“It’s super important to start well in these competitions but now Denmark is awaiting us. We know they’re a great team, we’ve been struggling against them recently, so we have to try to find the solutions to beat them this time.”

It will have to do it without left back Lucas Hernandez, who was ruled out of the tournament with an ACL injury and will be replaced in the starting line-up by his brother Theo - a player with a more offensive mindset.

Coach Didier Deschamps will hope that nothing happens to the older Hernandez brother as he does not have another proper left back in store in Qatar.

France leads Group D with three points, two ahead of Denmark and Tunisia with Australia on zero.

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