France guided by lucky star Deschamps

15 May 2014 01:16

Didier Deschamps has had luck on his side throughout his career, and the France boss will be hoping that a kind World Cup draw can set Les Bleus up for a successful campaign in Brazil.

When the draw for the finals was made back in December, French media rejoiced after seeing their team thrown in with Honduras, Switzerland and Ecuador in Group E, quite an escape given that Les Bleus were not among the top seeds.

"The day that luck was handed out, Didier Deschamps was there in the front row", remarked sports daily L'Equipe, adding that the 45-year-old Basque-born coach was accompanied by a "lucky star which watches over him".

France great Michel Platini, these days the president of UEFA, once said that Deschamps "must have been blessed with holy water when he was born", although he has a lot more going for him than just that.

Schooled at Nantes under the legendary coach Jean-Claude Suaudeau, 'DD' was part of the France side that famously suffered a gut-wrenching last-gasp loss to Bulgaria to miss out on qualifying for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

That defeat marked a generation, with the exception of Deschamps, who recovered from the heartache to lift the World Cup at the Stade de France in 1998 and also captained the side that won the European Championship two years later.

- Quarter-final would be success -

Seventeen years on from that he coached Marseille to the Ligue 1 title, while his coaching CV also includes a Champions League final appearance with Monaco in 2004.

Deschamps clearly knows what he is doing, but his time in charge of Les Bleus has been a trying one, with just nine wins to his name in 19 games in charge.

After being appointed as successor to former international team-mate Laurent Blanc in 2012, Deschamps said that "it would make no sense to carry on" as coach if France failed to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.

They made it, if only just, finishing second in their qualifying group behind reigning world and European champions Spain and then beating Ukraine in a play-off, overcoming a 2-0 first-leg defeat in Kiev by producing a stirring display to win 3-0 in the return at the Stade de France.

"I have lived through some great moments in my long career," said the 45-year-old after that victory. "To take France to a World Cup is fabulous, especially after the first leg, where the result was not favourable."

Deschamps was thrown into the air by his players in the centre-circle of the Stade de France at the end of that game, just as he was at the end of the 1998 World Cup final win against Brazil.

Nobody is even contemplating a repeat of that triumph this time around, but a run to the quarter-finals would be considered a success as the coach looks to build a team capable of winning Euro 2016 on home soil.

Source: AFP