William Saliba admits France were ‘shaken up’ by Tunisia in their 1-0 defeat by the Africans and blames fielding an inexperienced team in unusual positions for first World Cup loss since 2014
- William Saliba says France were shaken up by Tunisia in their Group D defeat
- The Arsenal defender also says players weren’t played in their usual positions
- The defeat was France’s first World Cup loss since Germany defeat in 2014
- The reigning world champions will now play Poland in the last sixteen on Sunday
William Saliba has admitted that France were shaken up by the performance of Tunisia in their 1-0 defeat to the African side.
Saliba came on as a second half substitute for a much-changed French side, who had already qualified for the last sixteen, but couldn’t prevent the reigning world champions from losing their final group game.
Speaking to beIN Sports the Arsenal defender pointed out that several players were deployed in unusual positions and that the eleven were not used to lining up together. The centre-back also admitted that Tunisia’s fast start to the game had an impact on their performance.
William Saliba says the much changed France side were ‘shaken up’ by Tunisia in their defeat
He said: ‘It definitely wasn’t an easy game today. The team was changed, there were a lot of players who had never played together, so it was a bit difficult. It was a bit better in the second half at the start, but then we conceded that goal. We were pushing at the end to try and score but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.’
I wouldn’t say there was a sense of fear, but we were shaken up a bit at the start of the match. But there were players who weren’t in their usual position, so they weren’t used to it.’
The 21-year-old was earning his eighth cap for France, having come into the tournament off a string of impressive performances for a Gunners side that currently lead the Premier League by five points.
The defeat was France’s first World Cup loss since being eliminated by Germany in 2014
However, Tunisia ruined Saliba’s World Cup bow and France’s unbeaten record in the competition thanks to Wahbi Khazri’s second half winner.
France almost salvaged a point from the game in injury time, but after a lengthy delay Antoine Griezmann’s equaliser was ruled out by VAR after the French forward was seen to be offside in the build to the goal.
Coach Didier Deschamps admitted that the changes he made to the team did not help France, but believes they could pay off later in the competition.
‘We had some difficulties through the choices that I made.’ admitted the France boss. ‘It should help us in four days.
Didier Deschamps says there difficulties with the team selection he made that saw France suffer a 1-0 loss to Tunisia
‘Some players were at risk [of injury] and we had just played two high-intensity matches. It allowed the substitutes to see the difference [in quality] in a World Cup match. We’ve reached the objective, we’re going to recover, now begins a second competition.’
The defeat was the first loss the French side have suffered at a World Cup finals since going out to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
France will now head to the knockout stage of the competition knowing they’ll be up against Poland on Sunday, after the Poles scraped through in second place from Group C on goal difference.