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Ribery concern as France draw with Paraguay

02 June 2014, 10:01

Nice - France were held to a 1-1 draw by Paraguay in a World Cup warm-up game on Sunday, amid concerns surrounding the fitness of Franck Ribery.

Forward Antoine Griezmann curled a perfect effort from inside the box into the far corner eight minutes from time after France had dominated the match, but Paraguay's Victor Caceres equalised in the 89th with a downward header from a free kick.

In heavy rain at the Allianz Riviera stadium, France combined well but lacked a cutting edge as coach Didier Deschamps made several changes to test his 23-man squad.

"We cannot win all matches 4-0. We found the back of the net but then we sat back a little bit too much," said Deschamps.

"We knew that we would be up against a defensive team. There were some good things. We are not at our best but we still have time."

Ribery's fitness remains a major concern with the Bayern Munich winger suffering from lower back pain.

"We will do our best so that he can be available for next Sunday," Deschamps said.

Griezmann has played in Ribery's position on the left flank against Paraguay and in their previous friendly against Norway, with his impressive displays giving reason for optimism.

France, who play another friendly against Jamaica in Lille next Sunday, start their World Cup campaign with a Group E game against Honduras before taking on Ecuador and Switzerland.

After beating Norway 4-0 last week, Paraguay proved a tougher opponent.

Before opening the scoring, France's best chance came in the 59th minute when Olivier Giroud's header was tipped over the bar by Anthony Silva.

Arsenal forward Giroud started the game in the absence of Karim Benzema, who was rested along with Real Madrid team mate Raphael Varane, after the Spanish club won the Champions League final last weekend.

In 2002, France coach Roger Lemerre took Zinedine Zidane to the World Cup after the playmaker had injured his thigh in their last warm-up game against South Korea. Zidane could only play in the final group game against Denmark and made no impact as Les Bleus crashed out in the first round.

At the 2008 European Championship, coach Raymond Domenech included the injured Patrick Vieira in his squad but he never played as France were also eliminated in the group stage.

Deschamps, who has already named a 23-man squad with six players on stand-by, has until Monday to submit his final selection to FIFA.

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- Reuters


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