France head coach Didier Deschamps saw "some interesting things" from Marcus Thuram on his international debut against Finland.

Les Bleus' 12-match unbeaten run was ended with a shock 2-0 loss to Finland at Stade de France on Wednesday.

Thuram, the son of World Cup winner Lilian, hit the crossbar with a header and volleyed over as he made his international debut.

Deschamps liked some of what he saw from Borussia Monchengladbach forward Thuram.

"Because it is his first cap with France, I will look at some mitigating factors," he told a news conference.

"He has done some good things, especially during the first half. He could have scored with a bit more luck when his header hit the crossbar.

"He has tried, he has created some space. It was a bit more difficult for him during the second half. There were less gaps and maybe he was a bit tired too, his last game was on Sunday.

"He has shown us some interesting things for his first cap."

Marcus Forss and Onni Valakari scored debut goals for Finland in a shock win.

France attempted 24 shots against Finland, their highest tally in a game without scoring a single goal since drawing with Luxembourg in September 2017.

Deschamps said France needed to learn from their loss ahead of facing Portugal in a crucial Nations League clash on Saturday.

"I want to congratulate this Finland team. Regarding our aggressiveness, intensity and togetherness it is a hard lesson to remember for us," he said.

"Sometimes, it is nice to take a hard game like this in case we forget some of the basics. Those are the facts, this is the reality of high-level football and hopefully it is like that."

Antoine Griezmann said France must learn from their shock 2-0 defeat to Finland ahead of a showdown with Portugal on Saturday.

The world champions' 12-match unbeaten run came to a halt in a friendly at Stade de France on Wednesday following goals from 21-year-old debutants Marcus Forss and Onni Valakari in the space of three first-half minutes.

Victory for Finland was their first against Les Bleus in nine attempts, but it could have been a different story in Paris, where Didier Deschamps' side failed to capitalise on a bright start.

Marcus Thuram, making his full international bow, headed against the crossbar and volleyed off target when unmarked from close range before Finland took the lead.

Deschamps made eight changes to the side that started in a win over Croatia last month, with Griezmann among those coming off the bench three days before a crunch Nations League encounter with Portugal.

France's 24 attempts at goal was their most without scoring since firing a blank against Luxembourg in September 2017 and Griezmann warned they must be more ruthless.

He told M6: "We had two or three opportunities with Marcus. If he puts them in, it's another game. We have to look at what we did wrong and look to Saturday."

Thuram was in the thick of the action in a lively debut and hopes to soon get another chance to show he belongs on the international stage.

"It's true that it was a good first half. This Finnish team has come together very well," said the Borussia Monchengladbach forward.

"I try to learn a lot alongside the other internationals to gain as much experience as possible as quickly as possible."

Debutants Marcus Forss and Onni Valakari scored debut goals as Finland ended France's 12-match unbeaten run with a shock 2-0 friendly victory.

A much-changed Les Bleus side made a promising start, but 21-year-olds Forss and Valakari struck in the space of three first-half minutes to put Finland in command at the Stade de France on Wednesday.

France debutant Marcus Thuram struck the crossbar before Forss opened the scoring, but the world champions were toothless ahead of their Nations League encounters with Portugal and Sweden.

Finland, who also rung the changes, were solid after rocking Didier Deschamps' side with those two first-half goals from out of the blue and famously secured their first win over France, whose previous defeat came against Turkey in June 2019.

Thuram made a lively start on the left flank and almost opened the scoring when he rose high to head Lucas Digne's corner against the crossbar 15 minutes in, before volleying over unmarked from just eight yards out.

France were dominant but Finland took the lead against the run of play just before the half-hour mark, Forss driving into the penalty area to fire home with his left foot after Rasmus Karjalainen dispossessed Moussa Sissoko.

Things quickly went from bad to worse for Les Bleus, with Valakari cutting inside onto his left foot and picking his spot in the top-left corner with a stunning strike from around 20 yards out.

Finland were brimming with confidence and Steve Mandanda had to be alert to keep out Joni Kauko's effort with his feet early in the second half.

Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and N'Golo Kante were introduced 12 minutes after the break, with Paul Pogba among the trio withdrawn, but France were running out of ideas.

Monaco full-back Ruben Aguilar made his debut off the bench and Griezmann firing wide in stoppage time when he ought to have scored summed up a frustrating night for France.

Didier Deschamps says Marcus Thuram deserves to be in the France squad and has earned his maiden call-up on merit rather than because of his father's legendary status.

Thuram, the son of iconic defender Lilian, is part of the squad for Wednesday's friendly with Finland and the Nations League double-header against Portugal and Sweden.

The Borussia Monchengladbach attacker has started the season well, scoring three goals and setting up two more in 11 matches, including a brace against Real Madrid.

He has been directly involved in 20 Bundesliga goals since joining Gladbach ahead of last season, with only nine players bettering that tally over the same period.

Deschamps talked up Thuram's talents when announcing his squad last week and insists the 23-year-old is ready to step out of the shadow of his dad, who made a record 142 appearances for Les Bleus.

"He likes his dad, I like him as well, but we're talking about Marcus. He's used to all this," Deschamps said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"He's easy going, relaxed and knows most of the players so I don't think there's an emotional problem. That being said, when you're here it can be different. 

"He likes when there's adrenaline, pressure, fans but I don't think it will be a problem. He's here so I count on him. When you're the son of someone, it's always a topic, especially with the French team as it doesn't happen that much."

And while Deschamps wants Thuram to be his own man, he accepts having a one-time world-class player as a father can only be a blessing.

"This is his life, his career. His dad's career is over, we all remember it," he said. "But knowing Lilian, it's going to be an advantage for Marcus - he can get his advice. 

"Most importantly, I told him that if he's here, it's only because of what he did. Being the son of someone is not a criteria to be called, it would be wrong. 

"He knows his dad, I know him, but if he's here, it's because I think he deserves it."

Kurt Zouma is another player looking to make an impact on his recall to the side, the Chelsea centre-back being preferred to RB Leipzig's highly-rated Dayot Upamecano.

He has helped Chelsea to eight clean sheets in 12 appearances this term and Deschamps will give Zouma a chance to add to his five caps over the next week or so.

"There's competition in every position," Deschamps said. "Kurt has been with us for a while, has been called many times but didn't play that much. 

"If I pick him, it's because I think he's better than others at that position because what he's doing with Chelsea.  He had a few injuries in a row, but now he's been very fit for a while. 

"He's very calm, so he's here. If you're asking why I picked those four central defenders, I have to choose. We have three games in nine days so obviously everybody will play, including Kurt."

The Republic of Ireland's opening Nations League matches against Bulgaria and Finland gave Stephen Kenny "some food for thought" as he looks ahead to the "bigger picture" of their Euro 2020 play-off.

In Kenny's first two games as manager, Ireland drew in Bulgaria with a late Shane Duffy equaliser on Thursday and then lost 1-0 at home to Finland on Sunday.

But while frustrated not to take the three points in Dublin after a series of misses in the closing stages - including another Duffy header - Kenny's focus was already on a vital meeting with Slovakia.

Ireland must come through that fixture next month and then a subsequent play-off final to qualify for the European Championship in 2021.

For that reason, the Ireland boss was willing to name experimental line-ups – he changed his entire midfield for the meeting with Finland – in a bid to find his best side.

"We wanted to win - my first game at home, of course we wanted to win - but, for us, there's a bigger picture. That's Slovakia." Kenny explained to Sky Sports.

"We were a bit experimental in the games, I think that's evident. We want players to really put their hands up and put themselves in the picture for Slovakia.

"We need to increase our attacking options, for sure, for the game against Slovakia.

"We wanted to do that and some players did quite well. That gives us some food for thought for the game next month."

Having struggled to break Finland down before the break, Ireland preyed on the visitors' sloppiness at the back to muster big second-half chances.

They could not take their opportunities, however, and Kenny reflected: "We probably had four or five really good chances today.

"When you get them, you have to take them. It's as simple as that. We're disappointed, obviously, to lose the game."

Stephen Kenny's wait for a first win as Republic of Ireland manager went on as they suffered a 1-0 home Nations League loss to Finland.

Only a late header from captain Shane Duffy rescued a point in Bulgaria on Thursday, and there was to be no Irish hero back in Dublin.

Fredrik Jensen made an instant impact from the bench with the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute, while Kenny's men failed to test Lukas Hradecky for much of a tight contest.

Defeat leaves Ireland already five points off the pace and in need of a lift for their crucial Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia.

Ireland struggled to break Finland down in a frustrating first half and were grateful for a big early stop from Darren Randolph at the other end.

Robert Taylor's superb pass sent Teemu Pukki clear, but the Norwich City striker could not beat Randolph, who saved smartly with his left boot.

Although the hosts initially improved following the restart, the opener then came at the other end, courtesy of Jensen, just 19 seconds after his arrival in place of Joel Pohjanpalo.

Pukki fed Taylor on the left and a measured pass across the face of goal evaded both Randolph and his defenders, and the lunging substitute slammed into the net.

David McGoldrick might have had a similarly swift impact for Ireland but dallied in front of goal, before Hradecky blocked brilliantly from Callum Robinson.

Finland came on strong again as Taylor worked Randolph at his near post and, after Pukki dragged just wide, the Ireland goalkeeper made an outstanding fingertip save from Nikolai Alho.

Those stops meant Duffy could have again earned a draw as he rose to meet a Robbie Brady corner, but his header looped over as Finland held on.


What does it mean? Ireland lacking spark

Having required a late set-piece goal against Bulgaria, it was all change in the Ireland midfield. But chances were still scarce back in Dublin, with Adam Idah - a debutant earlier in the week - again starved of service.

This was just Ireland's second defeat in their past 14 matches, but they must offer more in attack to settle these hard-fought affairs in their favour.

Taylor pulls the strings

Jensen might have got the goal, but he would not have been in a position to score without the inspired involvement of Taylor. The midfielder's finely weighted passes teed up Pukki in the first half and then the substitute after the break just as Ireland were taking control.

Ireland fail to capitalise

Given the lack of creativity in midfield, Ireland needed to make the most of any chances Finland gifted them. Twice Hradecky put a team-mate in trouble playing out from the back, but Aaron Connolly's poor touch drove him wide, while McGoldrick hesitated at the key moment.

What's next?

Ireland return to action next month with a mammoth Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Slovakia. Meanwhile, Finland can look ahead to their friendly at Poland.

Gareth Bale's half-time substitution in Wales' 1-0 Nations League win over Finland on Thursday was planned due to his lack of match fitness, Ryan Giggs has revealed.

Despite being frozen out in recent months at Real Madrid, Bale captained his country in their first League B Group 4 match in Helsinki on Thursday.

His rustiness was evident, though, as he fired well wide when he cut onto his left foot in the first period and Bale was replaced by Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson at the interval.

Bale had played only a combined 100 minutes since February for Madrid and Giggs explained that he had Sunday's game against Bulgaria in mind when he made the switch.

"It was planned before," Giggs told Sky Sports. "He's had no football at all. It was a real juggling act picking the team.

"Gareth has had the least amount of football out of everyone so it was always the plan to give him 45 minutes, or, if he felt good, an hour.

"I thought it was best, with Sunday in mind, to bring him off after 45 minutes and then give Harry, who hasn't played much football, some minutes as well."

Without Bale on the pitch, it was Daniel James and Kieffer Moore who came to the fore for the winner with 10 minutes to go.

Manchester United winger James got away down the left-hand side and Moore – who had earlier had a goal ruled out for a foul – applied the finish to give Wales a winning start to their Nations League campaign.

"I thought it was a really gritty performance – not our usual flowing football that we are capable of – but credit to Finland who made it difficult for us," Giggs added of the win.

"I think it is the kind of game where we can learn from but also take a lot of pluses because we dug out the result in the end.

"With a clean sheet, you have always got chances because of the players we have got and those players produced again – DJ and Kieffer."

A below-par Gareth Bale lasted just 45 minutes of Wales' opening Nations League clash with Finland, but Kieffer Moore's late strike ensured Ryan Giggs' side made a winning start.

Real Madrid forward Bale – out of favour in the Spanish capital – had been restricted to a combined 100 minutes since February and his rust was evident as he miscued a first-half chance before being taken off at the break.

His miss was nowhere near as bad as Leo Vaisanen's in the second period, though, with the defender somehow failing to score from three yards out.

And Moore, who had earlier had a goal ruled out, made him pay by turning home from Daniel James' pass with 10 minutes to go to secure a 1-0 victory.

Wales thought they had opened the scoring inside four minutes when Moore nodded home from James' cross, but the goal was ruled out as the striker was adjudged to have fouled Daniel O'Shaughnessy before meeting the delivery.

Bale was unable to seize his chance when a deflected James effort was spilled into his path by goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, who then watched the Madrid man's curling effort fly well wide. 

Harry Wilson came on for the Wales skipper at half-time and Finland should have been ahead shortly after.

Ilmari Niskanen's corner was headed back across goal by Joel Pohjanpalo for an unmarked Vaisanen, yet he somehow volleyed against the post from point-blank range.

It proved costly as James scampered away down the left again, squaring for Moore to apply a finish that Hradecky could not keep out.

 

What does it mean? Wales find a way without their talisman

Wales faded after Bale was taken off and that will have been a concern to Giggs given his rustiness could be a frequent issue if he cannot get a move from Madrid soon.

However, on this occasion, they still mustered up a winner as James and Moore – the two best players on the pitch – stepped up with Bale back on the bench.

James provides encouragement

James copped plenty of criticism towards the end of his first season with Manchester United, but there were fleeting glimpses here of the reason why he excited so much earlier on in the campaign.

Wales' three best moments in the first half all came from James runs and his assist for Moore's winner was a perfectly measured pass.

Vaisanen defies belief with miss

All eyes were on Bale on his return to action, though you could not take your eyes off Vaisanen following his unbelievable miss.

It seemed easier to score and the 23-year-old will be wondering how on earth he did not get his first senior international goal.

What's next?

On Sunday, Wales host Bulgaria, who drew 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland on Thursday. The Irish entertain Finland on the same day in the other group game in League B Group 4.

Gareth Bale would consider returning to the Premier League and blames Real Madrid for not letting him leave the club sooner.

The Wales international made just 20 appearances in all competitions last season and asked to be left out of the squad to face Manchester City in last month's Champions League last-16 second leg.

He came close to moving to the Chinese Super League last year, only for Madrid to pull the plug on a deal at the 11th hour, and has since been linked with Manchester United and former club Tottenham.

And with the current transfer window open for another month, Bale admits to being disappointed at not being granted a move away from the Spanish capital.

"I tried to leave last year but they blocked everything at the last second. It was a project I was excited for but it didn't materialise," he told Sky Sports.

"There have been other instances where we have tried to go but the club won't allow it or they've done something. It's down to the club.

"I want to play football, I am still motivated to play football, so I guess it's on the club. They are in control of everything.

"I have a contract, all I can do is carry on what I am doing and hopefully something comes up.

"I am only 31 still but I feel I am in great shape still and feel like I have a lot to give. We will see what happens. 

"It's in the club's hands but they make things very difficult to be honest."

Asked about the prospect of a return to the Premier League, Bale said: "If those options arise, it is something I'd look at for sure.

"We'll see what happens. We have plenty of time in this transfer window and a couple of others as well. 

"Time will tell but mainly I think the reason is that the decision is in Real Madrid's hands."

Bale played just twice for Madrid upon their return to action in June but has been included in Wales' squad for this week's Nations League games with Finland and Bulgaria.

Despite a lack of playing time, the 31-year-old is raring to go for his national side and he took aim at Madrid by saying it is nice to be in an environment where he feels valued.

"I think everyone knows how much I love coming away with Wales," he said. "It's nice to be back at a place where you are a little bit more appreciated and supported by your fans no matter what.

"We're all focused. We haven't had much time to prepare for these games. I haven't been back in training yet - I have just come back off holiday.

"I have kept myself fit over the summer. We just need to prepare for next year's Euros. We have a lot of games leading into that and it starts on Thursday."

The last three European winners of major tournaments will play in the same pool at Euro 2020, after France, Portugal and Germany were all drawn together

Germany and France - victors at the respective 2014 and 2018 World Cups - will take on reigning European champions Portugal and a play-off winner in Group G.

Croatia, runners-up at last year's World Cup, will renew acquaintances with England, the side they beat in the semi-finals.

Here is the draw in full for next year's event, with four places in the finals still to be determined by the four path-winners in March's play-offs.

 

Group A: Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland

Group B: Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia.

Group C: Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, play-off winner from Path D (Georgia, Belarus, North Macedonia or Kosovo) or Romania if they win Path A.

Group D: England, Croatia, Czech Republic, play-off winner from Path C (Scotland, Israel, Norway or Serbia)

Group E: Spain, Sweden, Poland, play-off winner from Path B (Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland)

Group F: Germany, France, Portugal, play-off winner from Path A (Iceland, Bulgaria, Hungary) or winner of Path D (Georgia, Belarus, North Macedonia or Kosovo) if Romania win Path A.

Holders Portugal will face world champions France and fellow heavyweights Germany in a daunting Group F at Euro 2020.

Saturday's draw in Bucharest pitted Fernando Santos' men and their talismanic captain Cristiano Ronaldo against the winners of the two World Cups either side of their Euro 2016 triumph.

It means Didier Deschamps' Bleus will have an opportunity for revenge after Portugal beat them on home soil at the Stade de France to lift the trophy.

The nation with the dubious pleasure of joining them is still to be determined. Iceland, Bulgaria or Hungary would claim the fourth spot if they progress through their play-off route in Path A.

However, if Romania are victorious in Path A, they will go into Group C with Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria.

In permutations that underline the convoluted and criticised format, one of Georgia, Belarus, North Macedonia or Kosovo from play-off Path B would enter Group F if Romania qualify. Otherwise, the winner of Path B goes into Group C.

Italy open the tournament, which will take place across 12 host cities, when they entertain Turkey in Rome on June 12. Wales and Switzerland are also in Group A.

England and Croatia renew acquaintances at Wembley in Group D – Gareth Southgate's men having been sunk by a Mario Mandzukic winner in the semi-finals of Russia 2018 before progressing to the Nations League Finals at the expense of Zlatko Dalic's team.

There is the possibility of an all-British encounter if Scotland prevail from their play-off path alongside Israel, Norway and Serbia, while Czech Republic will meet England again in the finals having traded victories with the Three Lions during qualification.

Group B is the second group not waiting to see how play-off cards fall, with the world's number-one ranked team Belgium lining up alongside Denmark, Finland and Russia.

Spain are aiming to make it three European titles in four attempts after securing glory in 2008 and 2012.

They head up Group C, where the winner of the play-off route including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Slovakia and the Republic of Ireland will round out the line-up alongside Sweden and Poland.

The Euro 2020 play-offs take place during next March's international break.

The last three European winners of major tournaments will play in the same pool at Euro 2020, after France, Portugal and Germany were all drawn together

Germany and France - victors at the respective 2014 and 2018 World Cups - will take on reigning European champions Portugal and a play-off winner in Group G.

Croatia, runners-up at last year's World Cup, will renew acquaintances with England, the side they beat in the semi-finals.

Here is the draw in full for next year's event, with four places in the finals still to be determined by the four path-winners in March's play-offs.

 

Group A: Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland

Group B: Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia.

Group C: Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, play-off winner from Path D (Georgia, Belarus, North Macedonia or Kosovo) or Romania if they win Path A.

Group D: England, Croatia, Czech Republic, play-off winner from Path C (Scotland, Israel, Norway or Serbia)

Group E: Spain, Sweden, Poland, play-off winner from Path B (Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland)

Group F: Germany, France, Portugal, play-off winner from Path A (Iceland, Bulgaria, Hungary) or winner of Path D (Georgia, Belarus, North Macedonia or Kosovo) if Romania win Path A.

Alexander Isak was subjected to racist abuse as Sweden booked their spot at Euro 2020 with a win over Romania on Friday.

Isak, 20, came off the bench during the win in Bucharest, with the game halted shortly after his 78th-minute introduction.

While play was then allowed to continue, the Real Sociedad forward confirmed he had reported racist abuse to the referee, describing the incident as "incredibly sad".

"Of course it is sad for the moment, but at the same time we were prepared for such things to happen, even if it does not help in that way," Isak told C More.

"I think I could handle it well and the team's support was incredible too.

"We did well and it is incredibly sad that such things happen, but what should we do?"

With one game remaining, Sweden (18 points) are second to Spain (23) in Group F, with both sides having already progressed.

Finland were the other team to book their spot at Euro 2020 on Friday after a 3-0 victory over Liechtenstein, reaching their first major tournament.

Denmark and Switzerland moved closer to qualifying from Group D after wins over Gibraltar and Georgia respectively.

With 15 points, Denmark top the group ahead of Switzerland (14) and the Republic of Ireland (12), with all three teams having one game left to play.

Finland qualified for a major tournament for the first time by defeating Liechtenstein 3-0 to book their place at Euro 2020.

Delighted fans flooded the pitch at full-time of the Group J fixture at the Telia 5G Areena in Helsinki as Finland guaranteed second place behind Italy.

Jasse Tuominen opened the scoring in the 21st minute and Finland were really dreaming when Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki doubled the lead from the penalty spot midway through the second half.

A second for Pukki with 15 minutes remaining ensured the celebrations could really begin for the home fans.

The result means Bosnia-Herzegovina can only reach the Euros via the play-offs.

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