Robert Pires hopes France are paired with a reinvigorated and "motivated" England in the Euro 2020 group stage.

Both sides finished top of their qualifying groups to get their name in the hat for Saturday's draw in Bucharest.

England will host a total of seven matches in next year's finals and are in Pot 1, while France - despite being world champions - are in Pot 2.

Former Arsenal winger Pires would like to see his native France face off against Gareth Southgate's side, who he believes will be a big threat in the tournament.

"What's for sure is that we're going to draw a big team because unfortunately we're in Pot 2," he told Omnisport, speaking as part of the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan.

"Which one I would like to play against? France-England would be nice. 

"I think that we're strong but the English are having a renaissance and Southgate has built a good team, quite young, with a bit of experience and they can be a good surprise during the next Euros. 

"And as you know the final is in London so they will be motivated."

One team Pires is eager for France to avoid is Spain, who qualified for the competition with an unbeaten record that sets them out among the favourites.

"The team to avoid is always Spain," added Pires, who won the World Cup and European Championship during his playing days.

"They remain very strong, they're very skilled and they cause problems to us every time."

Kingsley Coman was back running at Bayern Munich's training ground after leaving the France squad early with a muscle problem.

Coman was forced off in the 88th minute of France's 2-1 Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Moldova on Thursday. He was sent home early by France, meaning he missed Sunday's 2-0 away win in Albania.

An examination by Bayern's chief medical officer Dr. Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt revealed a muscle hardening in his thigh.

Bayern said the former Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus forward would undertake a reduced training programme following the injury but he appeared to making progress at the club's Saebener Strasse training ground on Tuesday.

The defending Bundesliga champions are third in the table, four points adrift of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

Bayern visit Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday, before travelling to Serbia to face Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.

Antoine Griezmann accepts his integration to life at Barcelona has not been easy but remains convinced he will be successful at Camp Nou.

After over a year of speculation and transfer rumours, Barca finally secured the signing of Griezmann from Atletico Madrid, triggering his €120million release clause.

While his haul of four LaLiga goals and three assists in 11 matches is hardly alarming, Griezmann's performances have generally failed to inspire much excitement from fans, leaving them somewhat underwhelmed.

It was thought the forward's arrival would alleviate some of the pressure on talisman Lionel Messi, but the Argentina superstar continues to shoulder much of the creative burden.

After Barca coach Ernesto Valverde recently suggested the Frenchman still needs to adapt to the team's style of play, Griezmann is confident of improving with time and has no doubts over his decision to join Barca.

"Barcelona is not the easiest place [to play]," he said in an interview with Telefoot. "It's a new team, a different club, new tactics and a new position and role for me. But it is what it is and it's time to work.

"I'm proud of the decision and where I am, and it will be the work that sorts everything. Trust me and everything will good.

"My goal now is to be an important player in the club, have more minutes, score more goals, make decisive passes, qualify in the Champions League and be up there in the league, be ready for the national team [France] in March and also for Euro 2020.

"I'm a player who thinks about the team. I can score many goals, but that is not my main goal. My goal is to help the team in any way I can."

Karim Benzema has told French football chief Noel Le Graet to stop interfering after claiming the Real Madrid striker would never play for his country again.

The 31-year-old last turned out for Les Bleus in a 4-0 win over Armenia in October 2015, since when he has been conspicuous by his absence from every squad selected.

Despite being a talisman for one of the biggest clubs in world football, the door appears closed to Benzema when it comes to Didier Deschamps' France team.

Since 2015, Benzema has strenuously denied any wrongdoing in an alleged attempt to blackmail former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

He has not played for France since the allegations were made, and that appears unlikely to change whatever the circumstances after Le Graet this week vowed a Benzema recall was out of the question.

Le Graet spoke out days after Real Madrid's French boss Zinedine Zidane said Benzema should "definitely" be recalled by Deschamps.

"Karim Benzema is a very good player, I've never doubted his qualities," French Football Federation president Le Graet told RMC Sport. "On the contrary, he shows with Real Madrid that he is one of the best players in his position. But the adventure with France is finished."

That prompted a seething response from Benzema, who wrote on Twitter: "Noel I thought that you wouldn't interfere in the coach's decisions!

"[You should] know that it's me and me alone who will put an end to my international career.

"If you think I'm finished, let me play for one of the countries for which I'm eligible and we'll see."

Benzema, who comes from Algerian heritage, scored 27 goals in 81 appearances for France before being sidelined from the national team.

With Real Madrid he has won a host of trophies, including the Champions League on four occasions, and with nine goals this season he is LaLiga's top scorer.

World champions France play Albania on Sunday in their final Euro 2020 qualifier, already assured of a place at next year's finals.

Didier Deschamps was not impressed with France's first-half performance against Moldova, insisting Euro 2020 qualification did not justify a below-par showing in their 2-1 win.

France booked their place at next year's finals before playing on Thursday, as Turkey drew at home to Iceland to ensure the visitors could not catch either their opponents or the world champions.

But rather than celebrate in style, France started sloppily in a Group H qualifier packed with decisive errors in Paris.

Clement Lenglet handed Moldova's Vadim Rata the opener, but Raphael Varane profited from Alexei Koselev's mistake, before Olivier Giroud sealed victory from the penalty spot.

With France still battling for seeding in the Euros draw, head coach Deschamps was concerned by the substandard early display.

"I do not think [qualifying explains a poor performance] and I hope not because it's not enough to be qualified," he said. "The possibility of finishing first remained with a victory.

"We conceded the goal on an error, but our first half was insufficient. I am not satisfied with the attacking play in the first period.

"The second was more consistent, even if we lacked efficiency. We had 17 attempts, not always on target. But in the first half, we had too few.

"There was a tendency to ask for the ball only to feet and not in behind. There was not enough movement and availability. It was too static, there was a lack of mobility."

Deschamps confirmed he had delivered some home truths at half-time, adding: "I can sometimes be hard, very hard with them

"There is so much potential in this team that, when I do not see what I want to see, I say it."

Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann have cited a half-time team talk from Didier Deschamps as the key to France's 2-1 win over Moldova.

Thanks to Turkey's goalless draw with Iceland in Group H's early kick-off, France already had their place at Euro 2020 secured heading into Thursday's encounter at Stade de France.

However, Clement Lenglet's early error gifted Moldova the lead, with Raphael Varane pouncing on a mistake from Alexei Koselev to pull France level.

An improved second-half display followed from Les Bleus, though it was not until Lucas Digne drew a foul from Veaceslav Posmac that the home side got their winner – Giroud slamming in from the spot.

Giroud has now scored in his past three France appearances and acknowledged the 2018 World Cup winners needed some tough love from their coach at the interval.

"I could have, we could have scored well before the penalty," Giroud told French television channel M6.

"We did not start as we should have done. We had a lack of aggression in everything we did, in the duels, in the decision-making and in the desire to do things right.

"In the second half there was much more intensity and accuracy with much better intentions so we created many opportunities.

"You have to know how to have solutions, that's what the coach stressed at half-time and he wanted more movement from our forwards.

"We tried hard to listen to him and offer more solutions in this area of our game and we created many opportunities."

Barcelona forward Griezmann echoed Giroud's comments, while lamenting his side's first-half performance.

"It's true that we did not have a good match, especially in the first half," Griezmann told reporters.

"The coach at half-time boosted us so we reacted a bit. Even if it showed that we were not well, especially in front of goal, we went on to get this victory."

The Czech Republic secured their qualification for Euro 2020 with a dramatic comeback win over Kosovo in Thursday's crucial Group A encounter.

Kosovo – who are guaranteed a play-off place thanks to their efforts in the UEFA Nations League – needed to avoid defeat at Doosan Arena to keep their chances of automatic qualification alive.

The visitors looked set to cause an upset when Sheffield Wednesday forward Atdhe Nuhiu put them ahead with a superb header in the 50th minute.

But the Czechs fought back, Alex Kral's stunning hit pulling them level before the midfielder provided the assist for Ondrej Celustka's winner eight minutes later as Jaroslav Silhavy's side completed the comeback to book their place at next year's tournament.

Elsewhere in Group A, leaders England wrapped up progression with a thumping 7-0 demolition of Montenegro at Wembley.

Earlier on Thursday, Turkey ensured their qualification with a 0-0 draw against Iceland – a result which also guaranteed France's spot in the finals, with the world champions coming from behind to defeat Moldova 2-1.

Despite a 6-0 win over Lithuania, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick, reigning champions Portugal must beat Luxembourg in their final match to take their place at the finals.

Spain, Belgium and Italy had already confirmed their places last month, with Ukraine, Russia and Poland having also sealed qualification.

France marked their qualification for Euro 2020 with a 2-1 victory as Olivier Giroud's penalty ended Moldova’s resistance at Stade de France.

Turkey's draw with Iceland earlier on Thursday had lifted any pressure off France, guaranteeing their place at next year's tournament, and Didier Deschamps' side put in a rather underwhelming display in Paris.

With no requirement to win, France made a sloppy start - calamitous Clement Lenglet defending handing Vadim Rata a chance to put Moldova ahead.

Alexei Koselev's error gifted Raphael Varane an equaliser, though, and France moved top of Group H when Giroud sent Moldova's goalkeeper the wrong way after Lucas Digne had been scythed down.

Against the run of play, Moldova hit the front in the ninth minute as Lenglet twice failed to clear with attempted headers - Rata nipping in to steer the visitors into an unlikely lead.

Benjamin Pavard went close to an immediate equaliser with a dipping half-volley, while Giroud should have done better from Digne's cross.

Giroud did play a part in France's leveller 10 minutes before the break, standing his ground as Koselev - who wanted a free-kick - let the ball slip from his grasp, allowing Varane on hand to head home.

Kylian Mbappe seemed set to make it 2-1 early in the second half, only for his goal-bound strike to be blocked by a Moldova defender, before Giroud volleyed over from close range.

For all their domination, France's efforts looked likely to prove fruitless, until Veaceslav Posmac's reckless lunge on Digne.

Giroud made no mistake, slamming in his third goal in as many appearances to complete the comeback with 11 minutes remaining.

 

What does it mean? France join the party

France's qualification was already ensured, meaning Les Bleus - beaten finalists at Euro 2016 - will now take part in their 13th successive major international competition, and Deschamps' focus will now be on securing top spot in Group H.

Giroud's run rolls on

He may not be getting much of a chance at Chelsea, but Giroud is one of the first names on Deschamps' team sheet and, while he missed some presentable chances, still kept up his fine run of form on the international stage.

Lenglet left red-faced - but Koselev lets him off the hook

Barcelona centre-back Lenglet should have coped comfortably with a high ball by heading it back to Steve Mandanda, but Koselev helped France recover, the keeper fazed by Giroud’s presence to gift Varane an equaliser.

What's next?

Les Bleus round off their qualification campaign against Albania on Sunday, while Moldova host Iceland.

Turkey ensured they and France qualified for Euro 2020 by holding out for a 0-0 draw against Iceland on Thursday.

Senol Gunes' side withstood substantial late pressure from their visitors, with Merih Demiral making a stunning goalline clearance to preserve parity in Istanbul.

The stalemate means Turkey edge to the top of Group H on 20 points, one ahead of France, who face an apparent formality at home to Moldova later on Thursday.

Didier Deschamps' world champions are three points ahead of Iceland in third and qualify by virtue of having a superior head-to-head record.

As things stand, a spot in the play-offs in March awaits Iceland.

Turkey and France join Belgium, Italy, Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Spain as confirmed participants at Euro 2020.

Thierry Henry believes Kylian Mbappe can beat his France goalscoring record and set the benchmark "very, very high" for generations to come.

Arsenal great Henry scored 51 goals for his country, the most of any France player, in a career that saw triumphs at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

However, Mbappe, still just 20, has already tallied 13 international goals, also winning a World Cup in Russia in 2018.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has quickly established himself as one of world football's outstanding talents and appears set to dominate for years to come.

Henry certainly believes that will be the case, explaining when asked by Omnisport if Mbappe could break his record: "With Kylian, we say he's young because of his age but he's not really young anymore because of what he does, because of the amount of games he has played, because of his game IQ.

"I often talk about that because we talk about his speed, his dribbles, his goals, and I think we'll talk about it for 20 more years. It's [a long time], I hope for him, but yes maybe 15, 16 years, 20 years if he can.

"Ibra [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] is still playing [at 38]. If [Mbappe] has no injuries, he'll be called up [to] the national team, of course he will.

"So yes, I think he will set the bar very, very high."

Henry is similarly optimistic France can follow up their World Cup triumph from last year with further success at Euro 2020.

He points out Didier Deschamps' men came close at the last European Championship, losing to Portugal in the final on home soil, before excelling further on the world stage - aided by Mbappe's emergence.

"It's very hard [to win consecutive tournaments] because everybody's waiting for you," Henry said.

"It's not easy to do it again, especially at that level.

"Spain did it three times in a row [from 2008 to 2012]. That French generation could have done the back-to-back [in 2016] but sadly [Portugal goalscorer] Eder decided otherwise, so it could have been three in a row.

"What is remarkable with that generation - and especially with Deschamps, who's there to guide them because he lived it as a player - is that people forget that they reached the final of Euro 2016, and then they won the World Cup.

"Now everybody's waiting for the confirmation. That team has talent, they proved it, they played two finals in a row, one lost, one won.

"What this generation is doing is extraordinary and it's good for French football. But yes they can do it [win again]."

HEINEKEN has announced it will become ‘Official Beer Partner of UEFA EURO 2020™’, and in a separate agreement has extended its UEFA Champions League partnership by another three years, from 2021-24. The new UEFA EURO 2020™ agreement means that Heineken® will be a partner of Europe’s most prestigious club and international football tournaments. Heineken®’s global ambassador Thierry Henry, has previously won both the EURO Championships with France in 2000 and the UEFA Champions League with Barcelona in the 2008/09 season.

Clement Lenglet says Antoine Griezmann is happy at Barcelona and is confident his team-mate will become a Camp Nou success.

Griezmann has failed to find his best form in Catalonia since joining Barca from Atletico Madrid in a €120million transfer during the close season.

The 28-year-old has been used predominantly in a wide role and has four goals in 15 matches in all competitions, failing to find the net in his past five outings.

However, Lenglet - also a colleague at international level with France - believes Griezmann is still learning to adapt to a new style of play following five seasons under Diego Simeone at Atleti.

"It's not simple to fit in at a club like Barcelona," Lenglet told a news conference on Tuesday. "Some players are already there and have a history together.

"Like in the French national team, there is a very specific way of playing - how we're positioned is different than what Antoine knew at Atletico, where he was starting from far back.

"You need time to adapt to feel better on the pitch and play as well as possible. 

"At Barcelona, we're trying to recover the ball as high as possible on the pitch with a lot of efforts on 20 to 30 metre runs. With Atletico, it was a bit different, they were falling back, and it was 50 to 60 metre runs. So you have to learn that, you need time. 

"Physically it's different, and mentally as well, you need to prepare. Antoine is working on that every day during training, and it's going to be better and better during games, I'm sure of it."

Asked if Griezmann performs differently for his country, speaking ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers against Moldova and Albania, Lenglet added: "'Different' is a big word, but when he's with the national team, he's having a lot of fun.

"He's been there for a long time, he played a few big tournaments with the team, and he won a really beautiful one. Of course, he knows this place very well, he's very happy to be here, he has a strong history with the team. 

"But he's also very happy to be at Barcelona, even if you're saying otherwise. He's smiling every day and likes to be happy on and off the pitch."

Griezmann admitted last month he had found it "difficult" connecting with Barca superstar Lionel Messi as neither of them are naturally big talkers.

Messi later played down suggestions of any issues, and Lenglet has praised the Argentina superstar for the way he helps new players to adapt at Camp Nou.

"[Messi] is very clam, very relaxed, very normal," he said. "When you arrive at Barcelona, you're careful about what you're doing but it's not Leo who's coming over to tell you off when you make a mistake. 

"He's very simple, he lets you play. This is how it went with Antoine and I. Step by step, you talk to him. 

"He gets along very well with Luis [Suarez] but he's very open with the others, so you can talk about many things, not only football. He's a simple man and he helps us every day."

Guilhem Guirado will miss the Six Nations after the France captain was ruled out for five months with a ruptured bicep.

Guirado suffered the injury just before the hour-mark on his Montpellier debut in a 19-19 Top 14 draw against his former club Toulon at Stade Mayol on Saturday.

Montpellier revealed on Tuesday that the hooker is to undergo surgery and will not be available until April.

The 33-year-old will play no part in Les Bleus' Six Nations campaign under Fabien Galthie, who replaced Jacques Brunel after the Rugby World Cup.

Montpellier have also lost wing Jim Nagusa for 10 weeks due to a knee injury.

Two-time Top 14 champions Montpellier travel to Connacht for their first European Champions Cup Pool 5 fixture on Sunday.

Zinedine Zidane raised the issue of Karim Benzema's continued absence from the France team again on Friday ahead of Real Madrid's trip to Eibar.

Benzema has been one of Europe's outstanding strikers during a 10-year Madrid career, yet he has not represented his country since 2015.

The Madrid frontman has not featured at international level since he was allegedly involved in a plot to blackmail his then-France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

Zidane claims Benzema still wants to represent France, though, and believes his player to be "the best" and worthy of a call-up.

"He's always wanted to play for the French side," Zidane told a news conference. "To be honest, I don't know exactly what's going on.

"But from a football point of view, he's the best. I think he should definitely have a place in the French national team. It's beyond my role here, but he should definitely be called up."

Benzema scored his 50th Champions League goal for Madrid in midweek, surpassing the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano on the club's all-time list in the process.

Antoine Griezmann will go on to enjoy a successful Barcelona career, Didier Deschamps believes, adding he has no concerns over the forward's form.

Griezmann left Atletico Madrid for Barca in a €120million deal in the close season, but he has failed to find his best form so far at Camp Nou.

Having played predominantly out wide rather than in the central role he occupies for France and used to fulfil for Atleti, the 28-year-old has four LaLiga goals in 10 appearances this term.

However, Deschamps has no concerns over Griezmann, claiming he simply needs more time to adapt to life at his new club.

"Not at all. Even if you have great players at Barcelona, it doesn't happen in a day. It depends on how they play, how they work with each other," Deschamps told a news conference after again selecting Griezmann for international duty.

"Also, he's put in different positions than the ones he has with France, even though he played [wide] a long time ago.

"He must fit in, the other players as well. He didn't choose the easiest solution and it's a big club, so the expectations are huge. He's always part of a team, but he's not used to it yet.

"Even when he's not as good, he's always positive for the team. With us, it's a different situation, different position, he can play at his best position where I've put him a long time ago. Of course, he has a very important role in how we play."

Another forward who has made the cut for France and has been a pivotal player under Deschamps is Olivier Giroud.

Giroud has made just four Premier League appearances for Chelsea so far this season, with Frank Lampard preferring Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi to the 33-year-old, who has been restricted to 211 minutes of club action across all competitions.

However, the former Arsenal striker remains a key player for France, scoring against Iceland and Turkey in October.

"I picked him last month because of what he did in the past. He's an important player for us. He proves it on the pitch," said Deschamps, who again stressed the importance of Giroud getting more game time. 

"When he scores, it's good for him. It happens quite frequently and, even when he doesn't score, he's an important player for us.

"Sadly, the situation hasn't evolved for him, but he is there because I trust him, because of what he has done in the past and in October. Of course, and he knows it, I hope the situation will change with his club for our games in March.

"He needs to play, even though he is very fit, he needs to be more on the pitch."

Benjamin Mendy has been handed a recall for France's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Moldova and Albania.

The Manchester City full-back was given the nod over Real Madrid counterpart Ferland Mendy when France's squad was announced on Thursday.

Coach Didier Deschamps named a 23-man selection which includes Kylian Mbappe, who has not featured for his country since June amid injury problems.

Similar issues have hindered Benjamin Mendy, though to a much greater extent, the former Monaco star having required knee surgery during his stop-start time at the Etihad Stadium.

Benjamin Mendy last appeared at international level in the Nations League last September.

Nabil Fekir, who was absent for the previous two international matches, also returns, and N'Golo Kante is included.

Injury meant midfielder Kante could not feature in the previous international break, though he did not return to Chelsea until after the second fixture, frustrating Frank Lampard.

There is no place in the squad for Barcelona duo Ousmane Dembele or Samuel Umtiti, while Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba and Lucas Hernandez are all sidelined. 

France sit joint-top of Group H alongside Turkey, boasting a four-point lead over third-placed Iceland with two matches remaining.

Moldova visit the Stade de France on November 14, and France conclude their qualifying campaign in Albania on November 17.
 

France squad: Alphonse Areola (Real Madrid), Mike Maignan (Lille), Steve Mandanda (Marseille); Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea); N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich); Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Nabil Fekir (Real Betis), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain).

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