France coach Didier Deschamps preferred to retain a positive outlook despite seeing his star-studded side held to a shock goalless draw at home by minnows Luxembourg.
Les Bleus went into the World Cup qualifier in Toulouse on the back of a 4-0 mauling of Holland on Thursday and would have been expected to inflict even more damage on a nation placed 126 below them in the FIFA world rankings.
But a combination of the woodwork, inspired goalkeeping from Jonathan Joubert and indifferent finishing saw France – who would have ensured a top-two finish in Group A with a win – held 0-0 at the Stadium Municipal.
Deschamps admitted his side “can do better” but pointed to the fact they still boast a one-point lead at the top of the group, with their final two games coming against Bulgaria and Belarus, as reason not to be too downhearted by the result.
He said in quotes reported by L’Equipe: “It’s true that three points against Luxembourg would, of course, be better.
“I am of a positive nature, but when things are going well, like against Holland, I do not fall into euphoria either.
“The players are disappointed. But the reality after this match is that we are better off in terms of points than we were before the two matches this week and we are also a point ahead of Sweden.
“We have to win our last two matches so we don’t have to rely on other sides. We have everything in front of us and it only depends on us”
Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann both struck the crossbar while the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Djibril Sidibe and Samuel Umtiti also were unable to make the most of the numerous openings that France created in the match.
It could have been much worse for the 1998 World Cup winners, though, as Luxembourg midfielder Gerson Rodrigues fired a shot against the post with 12 minutes left.
Deschamps said of his side’s performance: “We can do better, of course. Leaving a game where you’ve had at least 12 opportunities without winning is hard.
“I would like to congratulate Luxembourg who, like their goalkeeper, have been heroic.
“We created opportunities but lacked lucidity. There was always a foot, a leg, a post…It is annoying to have so many chances and not score, but we have to accept it. If there were no opportunities it would have bothered me more. That’s football.”
Luxembourg’s point was their fifth in qualifying and saw them move off the bottom of the group and above Belarus, who lost 4-0 to Sweden.
Coach Luc Holtz, whose side beat Belarus 1-0 on Thursday, said it was “a day of glory” for his nation.
He added: “We are satisfied with the point, which we got playing with a lot of heart, commitment and also success. With a bit more luck we would have got the three points.
“For Luxembourg, the result is historic. A point against a top team is extremely rare. It is a day of glory for Luxembourg football.”