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WORLD CUP 2014

WORLD CUP

World Cup: ‘Hungry’ France thrash Norway 4-0

Les Bleus will go to the World Cup full of confidence after notching up a 4-0 win over Norway in Paris on Tuesday. France coach Didier Deschamps praised the team's hunger and togetherness.

World Cup: 'Hungry' France thrash Norway 4-0
Les Bleus warmed up for the World Cup in Brazil by thrashing Norway 4-0 in Paris on Tuesday night. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Olivier Giroud scored a double as France stepped up their World Cup preparations on Tuesday with a 4-0 victory over Norway at the Stade de France in the first of three pre-tournament friendlies.

Paul Pogba netted a first-half opener in Paris, while Giroud enhanced his reputation ahead of next month's finals in Brazil through a second-half brace that came either side of Loic Remy's first international goal since 2011.

France coach Didier Deschamps was satisfied with the performance and the progress the team was making.

"We are not yet ready, but there is a collective hunger and a real togetherness about them," said Deschamps, who captained France to their 1998 World Cup victory at the same ground.

"It is good what we did tonight. One mustn't lose sight of our ultimate target but our performance reflected the work we have already done."

Despite the absence of some key regulars, Deschamps fielded a strong side featuring seven probable starters for Les Bleus' World Cup opener against Honduras on June 15.

Hugo Lloris and Franck Ribery were both rested while Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane have yet to join up with the squad after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League final against city rivals Atletico on Saturday.

France made a promising start as Antoine Griezmann and Giroud both tested Norway goalkeeper Orjan Nyland with headers inside the opening few minutes.

Griezmann again came close to putting the hosts in front when he redirected Yohan Cabaye's bouncing effort just wide of the far post, but it wasn't long before France found the breakthrough.

Mathieu Valbuena clipped a cross into the box and Pogba was on hand to send a stooping header beyond a helpless Nyland to give Les Bleus a 15th-minute lead.

The Juventus midfielder came close to a second shortly after as he fired narrowly wide from distance before France goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier, winning just his second cap as a stand-in for Lloris, held a low fizzing strike from Norway's Alexander Tettey.

Saint-Etienne keeper Ruffier, whose international debut came in a 2-1 defeat against the same opposition four years ago, then stuck out his right hand to deny Tom Hogli.

However, the Norwegians, ranked joint-55th in the world, found themselves overmatched in the second half as Arsenal striker Giroud drilled in a second on 51 minutes before the hosts rammed home their superiority.

Remy, who had only just come on in place of Griezmann, ran onto Newcastle teammate Mathieu Debuchy's wonderful through ball and slotted home a third on 67 minutes.

Giroud then doubled his tally, again combining well with Valbuena, as he sent an excellent looping header into the far corner to cap a resounding win two minutes later.

France will next head to Nice to play Paraguay on Sunday before making the trip north for a friendly with Jamaica in Lille on June 8.

They kick off their World Cup campaign against Honduras in Porto Alegre before facing Switzerland and Ecuador in Group E.

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FOOTBALL

France plans to keep growing women’s game after World Cup disappointment

France faces the challenge of continuing to develop women's football after the bitter disappointment of elimination from the World Cup by the United States.

France plans to keep growing women's game after World Cup disappointment
France players after the defeat against USA. Photo: AFP

“Back to Earth” was how sports daily L'Equipe put it after the host nation lost 2-1 to the holders in a quarter-final played out before a feverish crowd in Paris.

L'Equipe talked of “the disappointment of a shattered adventure” because coach Corinne Diacre's team had dreamt of emulating the men, World Cup winners in Russia last year and also winners as hosts in 1998.

The team had been desperate to make it to Lyon, where the semi-finals and final will be played and where seven of those who featured for France on Friday play their club football for Europe's top side.

Instead, France find themselves out of a fifth straight major tournament in the quarter-finals. To rub salt into the wounds, Friday's defeat had the knock-on effect of denying them a place at next year's Olympics.

Diacre had been set the objective of reaching the final, which always looked a daunting challenge once the draw raised the likelihood of an early meeting with the USA.

Amid the dejection on Friday, Diacre stated her wish to continue, and on Saturday French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel Le Graet confirmed she would stay.

“She will be in charge until the end of her contract, if not longer,” Le Graet told AFP.

That means until Euro 2021 in England at least, and the aim in France is to keep developing the women's game to give them a chance of one day going all the way.

The FFF hope the number of registered female players will reach 200,000 next year, an increase of almost 10 percent from present figures, but far from the two million registered male players.

They have also promised to invest 15 million euros into a post-World Cup “legacy” fund.

The interest in the women's game is there, as shown by television audiences during the World Cup, with 11.8 million watching the USA game on terrestrial TV.

However, translating that to an increased following in the women's domestic league will be a bigger challenge.

France games have drawn sell-out crowds at the World Cup, but in general attendances in domestic competition are modest at best, even if almost 26,000 saw powerhouses Lyon beat closest rivals Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year.

“We cannot go from so much enthusiasm now to league matches on poor pitches with only 120 fans,” said Le Graet. “We all need to make an effort and we will.”

Matches are televised, but like elsewhere income remains light years from rights deals in the men's game — a new sponsorship contract for the 12-club top flight with chemicals company Arkema is worth one million euros per season for three years.

Average salaries are reportedly around 3,500 euros per month, although stars like Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard are believed to earn almost 10 times that at Lyon, who have won the Champions League in the last four years. Again, those sums are dwarfed by the wages often on offer to the men.

“We need to keep putting money in, keep professionalising, because other countries are doing it and maybe that's why they are ahead of us,” warned Lyon and France forward Eugenie Le Sommer.

“We have a good league but unfortunately not every team is professional.

“There are countries who are ahead of us and we must catch up. Even Spain are putting lots of money in and we need to make sure we are not left behind.”

READ ALSO: France coach laments 'failure' as hosts knocked out of World Cup

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