Kazan: French national team coach Didier Deschamps said after his squad's 4-3 round-of-16 victory here Saturday over Argentina that his players were able to keep Argentine superstar Lionel Messi in check.
"I think my Argentine counterpart wanted to give him more freedom to get behind our midfielders. But we adapted to neutralize him. (N'Golo) Kante was always marking him," Deschamps said after the win.
Deschamps said his team had good success keeping the ball away from Messi, who went scoreless despite Argentina's three goals, adding that when the FC Barcelona talisman got his touches he always had one defender marking him and another lurking nearby.
The French coach said his team's system worked better after Argentina went ahead 2-1, although he admitted that the Albiceleste had the clear edge in ball possession.
"We were aware of the connection between (Javier) Mascherano, (Ever) Banega and Messi. If you want to limit Messi's influence, you need to impede those other two players," he added.
Deschamps acknowledged his team still has room for improvement but hailed the strong performance by a squad of mostly young players.
"It's a team with little experience, but I know they can go far. My job is to (help) all of them reach their best level," he added.