MUNICH - France coach Didier Deschamps says the world champions cannot afford any drop in standards as they prepare to launch their UEFA Nations League campaign away to Germany on Thursday.
Les Bleus return to action for the first time since lifting the World Cup trophy in Russia when they take on Joachim Loew's embattled Germany at a sold-out Allianz Arena in Munich. "I don't feel there's any letting up. Quite the opposite," Deschamps told reporters on Wednesday. "There's the happiness of being together and doing things together as usual, with the competition ahead of us against a quality opponent.
"If there's euphoria we will soon be caught. The risks don't necessarily come from us as there's also the opposition. But we've prepared as seriously as possible." He added: "There's a cheerful atmosphere in the squad but that doesn't stop the players from doing what they need to during training sessions and playing with intensity."
Germany's defence of their title ended with a disastrous group-stage exit in Russia, the country's earliest elimination since falling in the first round of the 1938 tournament. But Deschamps, whose side also face the Netherlands in their Nations League group, believes Germany are still capable of returning to their form of recent years.
"Germany were one of the big favourites at the World Cup. It didn't go well for them but the quality of this German team is there," he said.
"They don't go from one of the World Cup favourites to an average side now, because the main core is still there. They're still a top team."
Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane will captain France in the absence of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who along with Marseille's Steve Mandanda is sidelined by injury. "I would have preferred they were here, but I have total confidence in my three goalkeepers and in Alphonse Areola who will play tomorrow," said Deschamps.
The 25-year-old Varane, who will be making his 50th international appearance, said France must "keep the same values and the same ambition" in the wake of their World Cup victory. "It's not going to change our way of preparing for matches and how we get on as a group," said Varane.
"It gives us a particular status but I don't think this two-star jersey (in recognition of a second World Cup title) will weigh heavily on us. "We know we're coming up against a formidable opponent but it's good for us to get back into the swing of things."