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June 25, 2017

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New French order will depend on the iron will of coach Deschamps

RIBEIREO PRETO, Brazil -- France coach Didier Deschamps embodies Michel Platini's dictum that soccer is all about control, and he has brought those skills learnt as the 1998 World Cup winning captain to the current French squad.

While some have queried whether statements from players about being happy and enjoying living together, not to mention their almost choreographed communal celebrations after scoring goals, are directed by Deschamps so as to firmly cast into the shadows the debacle of the 2010 finals, he firmly denies it.

"I am not controlling the players with a joystick," he said visibly irritated recently when it was put to him that he ordered them to join in the celebrations.

Certainly there has been much to celebrate thus far in the finals with eight goals in two games and a point against Ecuador on Wednesday will guarantee them top spot in Group E.

The 45-year-old set the tone with his decision to leave the disruptive Samir Nasri out of his squad, showing he was willing to sacrifice talent for a happy ship.

That was something his two predecessors, Raymond Domenech at the 2010 finals and then Laurent Blanc at Euro 2012 — where Nasri failed to repay his faith by being involved in two unsavory incidents — failed to take into account.

His attitude has met with no complaints from his employers the French Football Federation, who themselves lost a president because of the shenanigans at the 2010 World Cup finals as Jean-Pierre Escalette fell on his sword just months after he had taken the credit for France's successful bid to host the 2016 European Championships.

"He (Deschamps) is at times close to the players, tough when he needs to be, but consistent," commented the current president Noel Le Graet.

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