Didier Deschamps says Cristiano Ronaldo’s “six pack is there for a reason” as he attempts to nullify the threat of the Portugal star in Sunday’s Euro 2016 final.
Deschamps is looking to lead France to silverware once again, although the head coach knows what a tough ask lies in wait.
Sunday’s encounter at the Stade de France promises to be a fascinating clash as Les Bleus look to end a 16-year wait to become continental champions.
Deschamps was key in France’s last success after skippering his country to Euro 2000, having done the same as they won the World Cup on home soil two years earlier and he says finals like these are a “privileged time, a unique opportunity”, admitting he would rather be on the field than the bench.
France are the bookmakers’ favourites for the final but few would argue that the best player taking to the turf will be Ronaldo.
Buoyed by a match-winning display in the semi-final against Wales, the 31-year-old is relishing the chance to spearhead a first ever Portuguese major tournament win.
“If there is an anti-Ronaldo plan, no one has yet found the recipe,” Deschamps said. “He’s a top player, he’s got great athletic attributes in the air.
“It’s not just that he can get up high, but he can hang there as well. I think his abdominal muscles, his six pack is there for a reason.
“But there are two things that are very tough to combat in football: pace and the aerial threat.
“It would be great to neutralise him, of course, but we need to be wary and limit his influence. That will be important to do.”
Deschamps, 47, is looking to lead France to another memorable triumph, with the 103-cap former midfielder described by captain Hugo Lloris as “the architect” of the current crop’s run to the final.
“It’s the players’ attributes, first and foremost and also the mindset,” Deschamps said when told of the goalkeeper’s comments.
“But this is the work I do with my staff on a daily basis, every time we meet up with the team.
“We’ve had two years of friendly matches, we didn’t win every fixture but we’ve tried to retain this mindset.
“The players are obviously competitors, it is fabulous to play a European Championship and they’re doing so in France.
“They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them even though it hasn’t been simple, it has even been tough at times.
“But they never give up and that’s something clearly I’m very fond of. I don’t know, I must have been born like that.
“When it’s just sport for fun, it’s about enjoying yourself, but at top-level sport winning is what matters. There’s nothing better than winning.
“You have to accept things when that’s not the case, but before accepting that you have to do everything to try and win matches.
“Football is by no means an exact science, it comes down to very small margins, but once you’ve done everything, once you’ve given everything, people have no regrets and we’re really driven forwards by this mindset on a daily basis.”