Didier Descahmps lauded France for keeping Cristiano Ronaldo quiet but conceded his side were short of their best in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Portugal.

The two remain locked together at the top of Nations League Group A3 after playing out a goalless draw at the Stade de France, which housed 1,000 socially distanced fans.

It was the first meeting between the sides since Portugal's triumph in the Euro 2016 final, but the contest failed to deliver much in the way of drama.

Ronaldo saw a late strike repelled by Hugo Lloris in what was a largely underwhelming clash between the champions of the world and the champions of Europe.

"We can always do better," admitted Les Bleus boss Deschamps.

"With the quality of the opponent we took precautions, we did not see Ronaldo this evening.

"It was more difficult for the attacking units in this game. Sometimes it is the movements that are not good, sometimes the passes do not arrive.

"We have to do better in the last move to win the match."

Deschamps was keen to highlight the excellent defensive work of both teams in shutting out two line-ups full of attacking quality.

"We knew that Portugal was a great team, we must rather talk about the defensive quality of the two teams," he said.

"The midfielders were very efficient in terms of technical accuracy... they allowed us to have more control, especially in the second half."

Next up for France is Wednesday's match away to Croatia.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos was left frustrated by a lack of creativity and "explosiveness" as his side drew 0-0 with France in the Nations League on Sunday.

In front of a home crowd of around 1,000 socially distanced fans at the Stade de France, a host of European football's elite stars were on display in a generally entertaining encounter.

But despite all of the attacking talent on show, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe, the match failed to yield a goal, with France unable to claim revenge in the two teams' first meeting since Portugal's triumph in the Euro 2016 final.

Although Portugal came away with a commendable point, Santos seemed a little underwhelmed, as if he was expecting more of a spectacle.

He said: "It was a very balanced game between two teams that were too cautious, especially in offensive terms.

"It doesn't seem like too much respect, we had quality players, but it wasn't a very fast game.

"There was a lack of more aggressive dynamics in the search for the goal. It's in these games that coaches always want more.

"We had to be organised, sure, but we expected creativity, explosiveness to be unleashed. Both teams played on the back foot a bit too much.

"Whenever the game changed from that, the teams created problems for each other."

Portugal right-back Nelson Semedo had a more positive outlook, however.

He said: "I think, in general, the team played a great game. The defence did very well.

"They have a great team, many good players and we managed to control them. We ended up with a draw, we wanted to win, but I don't think it's a bad result."

The stalemate leaves Portugal and France tied on seven points at the summit of Group A3 after three games – Croatia, who beat Sweden 2-1, are four points adrift.

France and Portugal remain locked together at the top of Nations League Group A3 after playing out a goalless draw at the Stade de France.

Facing each other for the first time since Eder proved Portugal's unlikely hero in the final of Euro 2016 at the same venue, a pair of all-star attacks found no way through against similarly elite defences.

Didier Deschamps' hosts, who enjoyed the backing of 1,000 socially distanced fans within the cavernous arena, were unable to relocate the free-scoring form that saw them demolish Ukraine 7-1 in a midweek friendly.

Portugal followed up their 0-0 draw against Spain with another stalemate, although Pepe thought he had headed a 74th-minute winner, only to see the offside flag raised.

Lucas Hernandez made a last-ditch block to deny Cristiano Ronaldo on the end of Bernardo Silva's deft 24th-minute flick – the opening exchanges having been easy on the eye without yielding much in the way of goalmouth action.

Antoine Griezmann drifted in between Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro latch on to Paul Pogba's floated pass and fire at Hugo Lloris, while Joao Felix incurred Ronaldo's wrath at the other end by flinging himself at Bruno Fernandes' free-kick to divert it away from the Juventus superstar.

Kylian Mbappe looked to rip the game open early in the second half, beating Danilo Pereira with a brilliant piece of skill, but Rui Patricio saved his dinked effort well.

Ronaldo uncharacteristically misjudged a half-volleyed attempt from Guerreiro's searching cross and it was an unerring set-piece delivery from the Borussia Dortmund man that picked out a stooping Pepe, whose celebrations were correctly cut short.

A more familiar match-winner almost presented himself in stoppage time, but Lloris got down sharply to repel Ronaldo at his near post.

What does it mean? All to play for in the return

Despite the lack of a decisive moment, this was a high-class encounter with some of Europe's finest talents catching the eye. Portugal and France have seven points from their three matches and expect them to add three more apiece before meeting again next month.

What's next?

France travel to Croatia on Wednesday, when Portugal host Sweden.

Cristiano Ronaldo is Kylian Mbappe's football idol but it is much too soon to be comparing the two, says France coach Didier Deschamps.

Les Bleus host Portugal on Sunday for a Nations League Group A3 clash, with both teams having taken six points from two games thus far.

That means Mbappe is set to come up against Juventus star Ronaldo, who is a five-time Ballon d'Or winner and has won league titles in England, Spain and Italy, as well as the Champions League five times.

Like Ronaldo, Mbappe enjoyed a rapid rise to superstardom as a teenager and at the age of 21 is already a World Cup winner.

But Deschamps says the 14-year gap in age makes comparisons between the two tricky.

"He [Ronaldo] was his idol. But I think that Cristiano was and is the idol of many young football players," Deschamps told a pre-match news conference. 

"It's difficult to compare them. Cristiano has been playing for many years at the highest level. They aren't the same age. I think it will be better to make a comparison when Kylian will be as old as Cristiano is now. 

"They are two players who are able to be decisive for their team at any moment. It is a strength of Cristiano and it is also one of Kylian, even if he is younger. They both are top players."

Deschamps led France to glory at Russia 2018 two years after his team were beaten 1-0 by Portugal in the final of their home European Championship.

The head coach said little can be learned from that game ahead of their latest meeting, though.

"It was a long time ago and we can't change anything so there is no point to think about it," he added. 

"It's okay to think about good memories but it's not the case. Congratulations to them, they were the European champions four years ago. It was also a useful experience for us. 

"We know what happened next. Tomorrow, we will meet again. But there are not so many players who were there. In our team, I think six players were in our group in 2016. 

"It will be a great game, between two great European teams. It will be the opportunity to assess our strengths, because we will face them again next month in Portugal and also in June, as planned."

Portugal defender Pepe is eyeing a challenge for World Cup glory in Qatar in 2022 – when he will be 39 years old.

The former Real Madrid centre-back, now with Porto, has won 111 caps for Portugal since making his debut in 2007.

He has competed at three World Cups and three European Championships, including their triumphant Euro 2016 campaign in France.

Pepe was named man of the match for his performance in the 1-0 win over the hosts in the final, in which he made a game-high 12 clearances and three blocks to keep France at bay before vomiting after 120 gruelling minutes of action.

Competition for places in Fernando Santos' defence is now strong. Pepe started the 0-0 draw with Spain on Tuesday alongside debutant Ruben Semedo and was replaced at half-time by new Manchester City signing Ruben Dias.

However, Pepe is not prepared to rule out the prospect of playing at the next World Cup, which will begin just three months before his 40th birthday.

"You never know," he told reporters ahead of Portugal's Nations League match with France. "I'm focused on the next game, which is the most important.

"I know how old I am but also what I can give. I'm happy to see there are young people who can contribute to the national team.

"There's a lot of quality and we all have to do our best at our clubs so that, when it's time for the team to be chosen, we are all available to help."

Portugal goalkeeper Anthony Lopes will not be involved in Sunday's game after having to leave the squad following a positive coronavirus test.

Pepe says players are now prepared for such eventualities and insists concerns about the virus are not a distraction when they go out onto the pitch.

"This is our reality. This is the way the world is and we know what can happen. We are prepared," he said.

"It's not just a situation in football. When we go out onto the pitch, we don't think about it, only about winning and helping the national team. That's how I think and I believe my team-mates do, too."

Spain and Portugal have confirmed their commitment to putting forward a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup. 

The two countries announced in December they would investigate staging the global competition, ruling Morocco - previously said to be involved - out of a three-nation proposal. 

Ahead of Wednesday's friendly between the sides in Lisbon, which finished in a goalless draw, the Spanish and Portuguese federations ratified an agreement to share the event.  

"This agreement means an important step for this common project of federations, but also for the countries," RFEF president Luis Rubiales said in a statement. 

"Soccer, sport, is a magnificent tool to inject strength and will to overcome in these moments of great difficulty. 

"Few things can be more exciting than the opportunity to organise a World Cup and we cannot think of a better partner than Portugal. We go hand in hand with the Portuguese Federation." 

Qatar are the next hosts of the tournament in 2022, while Canada, United States and Mexico are set to stage it four years later. 

A decision on where the 2030 World Cup will be held is due to be made by FIFA in 2024, with the bidding process starting in 2022. 

Morocco are also in the running, as are Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile in a four-way bid.

Luis Enrique felt Adama Traore showed his "purest form" as he appeared to nail his colours to the Spain mast in a lively international debut.

Traore's international future has been the source of some speculation after the Wolves winger was called up to both the Spain and Mali squads for this window.

The player, who is eligible for each country, belatedly made his bow for La Roja on Wednesday in a goalless draw against Portugal and could become cap-tied in the coming week.

Traore had twice earlier been called up but missed out due to injury and then coronavirus, yet patient head coach Luis Enrique saw exactly the player he had hoped for in Lisbon midweek.

The Spanish-born star appeared for just 28 minutes from the bench but created a huge chance for Dani Olmo, who shot straight at Traore's club colleague and Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

"Adama has been Adama in his purest form," Luis Enrique said of Traore, who was marked by Nelson Semedo, yet another Wolves man.

"That is what we want him to be, with his ability to beat opponents. He has played a killer pass to Dani Olmo that did not lead to a goal.

"With one player they will not to be able to stop him. They are going to have to use two players."

Portugal struck the crossbar through Cristiano Ronaldo and Renato Sanches at the other end, and Luis Enrique certainly felt there was no shortage of entertainment despite the scoreline.

"People cannot be sad today for not having seen goals," the Spain coach said. "It was fun. We created that, and who scores interests me very little."

Luis Enrique would not complain if future matches were a little calmer, however, adding: "Sometimes we do not read the game well.

"We have phases in which we lose control. I do not like that the games go crazy."

Opposite number Fernando Santos was not enthused, meanwhile, similarly feeling Portugal needed to have a firmer grasp of proceedings.

Portugal boss Santos, who described the opening stages as "miserable", said: "It will be a different game [against France in the Nations League] for which we'll have to take a different approach.

"We'll have to work well and with another degree of focus. I hope we're at the best level in that game."

Portugal and Barcelona forward Trincao said it is "impossible" to pick between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the world's best player. 

Trincao plays alongside Portugal captain and all-time leading goalscorer Ronaldo at international level, while he joined Barcelona great Messi at Camp Nou this season. 

Ronaldo and Messi have claimed the Ballons d'Or 11 times between them, with the latter the recipient of a record six gongs. 

Trincao was asked about the superstar duo following Portugal's goalless draw with Spain in Wednesday's friendly. 

"I am extremely proud to be able to play with both [Ronaldo and Messi]," the 20-year-old told RTP3 post-match in Lisbon. 

"It is impossible to say who is the best."

Ronaldo and Renato Sanches both rattled the crossbar in the second half against Spain, as the two countries faced each other ahead of upcoming Nations League fixtures. 

Portugal travel to face world champions France on Sunday, the day after Spain host Switzerland. 

"A difficult match against a very organised team. It is very good to start from this match against such a strong team," Trincao said as he reflected on the match, which saw him start in a front three alongside Ronaldo and Andre Silva. 

"I will just do my job, I am prepared to play, just like my team-mates, then the decision is up to the master."

Spain and Portugal have confirmed their commitment to putting forward a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup. 

The two countries announced in December they would investigate staging the global competition, ruling Morocco - previously said to be involved - out of a three-nation proposal. 

Ahead of Wednesday's friendly between the sides in Lisbon, which finished in a goalless draw, the Spanish and Portuguese federations ratified an agreement to share the event.  

"This agreement means an important step for this common project of federations, but also for the countries," RFEF president Luis Rubiales said in a statement. 

"Soccer, sport, is a magnificent tool to inject strength and will to overcome in these moments of great difficulty. 

"Few things can be more exciting than the opportunity to organise a World Cup and we cannot think of a better partner than Portugal. We go hand in hand with the Portuguese Federation." 

Qatar are the next hosts of the tournament in 2022, while Canada, United States and Mexico are set to stage it four years later. 

A decision on where the 2030 World Cup will be held is due to be made by FIFA in 2024, with the bidding process starting in 2022. 

Morocco are also in the running, as are Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile in a four-way bid.

Portugal and Spain shared a goalless draw in a friendly on Wednesday, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe reunited with old friend Sergio Ramos after the match.

Ronaldo and Renato Sanches both hit the crossbar for Portugal, while Dani Olmo went close to a winner for Spain in an entertaining clash in Lisbon midweek.

Rivalries were cast aside after the final whistle, when Real Madrid captain Ramos visited his former club-mates in the dressing room.

Ramos, Ronaldo and Pepe each played pivotal roles for Los Blancos in seasons gone by, and the three got together for a photo which the Madrid centre-back posted to his Twitter account.

"We're still around... and there's more to come! Happy to see you, my friends reunited," Ramos wrote.

Ronaldo is starring for Italian champions Juventus in Serie A, while Pepe is at Primeira Liga titleholders Porto.

While Spain host Switzerland on Saturday, Portugal face France on Sunday in the next batch of Nations League fixtures.

Kepa Arrizabalaga is feeling confident within the Spain squad after putting aside his struggles at Premier League giants Chelsea for the time being.

Kepa became the world's most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Chelsea from LaLiga outfit Athletic Bilbao for a reported £71.6million (€80m) two years ago.

However, the 26-year-old's unreliable form in the past year saw his place come under threat and he has now seemingly been usurped as Chelsea's number one goalkeeper by new signing Edouard Mendy.

Kepa played in Spain's 0-0 friendly draw with Portugal on Wednesday and produced a confident display, gathering a few set-pieces and making a fine late save from Trincao.

Afterwards, Kepa admitted to a sense of ease with the national team due to the faith shown in him by Spain head coach Luis Enrique.

"I've felt confidence, at ease. I think it was a good game and I'm happy with the confidence of the coach," he told Teledeporte.

"When I'm needed to help on the pitch, I try to do the best possible."

"It was a game of great intensity. [We had] more control in the first half. In the second, we found it more difficult to control Portugal's transitions. It was a good test.

"We have to be happy. We stood up today. We have to improve because we conceded a few clear chances, which you can pay for in a tournament."

Spain controlled the first half but Portugal were by far the more threatening in the second in Lisbon.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Renato Sanches each struck the underside of the crossbar with thunderous efforts and Joao Felix should have won the match late on, the Atletico Madrid star failing to turn in Ruben Semedo's glancing header.

"We started better, but as the game progressed, we lost control," striker Rodrigo Moreno told Teledeporte.

"The draw isn't an unfair result. The pace dropped as the match progressed. We had little time to train, [and] the games are very demanding.

"We have to give a little more to keep on this good path. We have to keep working and be protagonists with the ball."

Spain and Portugal played out an entertaining 0-0 friendly draw on Wednesday in a warm-up match for the next round of Nations League games.

Luis Enrique's men controlled the first half in Lisbon but had the crossbar to thank for keeping Cristiano Ronaldo and Renato Sanches at bay in the second half.

Each side experimented with their line-ups as a handful of players won their first senior caps, including Wolves winger Adama Traore, who nearly set up Dani Olmo for a winner.

Rui Patricio made three saves in the opening 17 minutes, his best a second-minute block from Gerard Moreno after he spun into space from Olmo's pass.

Such was Spain's control in the first 40 minutes that Ronaldo had only one touch of the ball in their penalty area, as Portugal failed to muster a shot on target.

They did let their guards down just before the break, though, Raphael Guerreiro blasting a half-volley over the bar and Ronaldo sending a tricky header wide from Joao Moutinho's free-kick.

Ronaldo was inches from breaking the deadlock early in the second half, smashing a shot off the underside of Kepa Arrizabalaga's crossbar from the edge of the area.

Portugal must have wondered whether the woodwork was cursed when Ronaldo played in Sanches, who thundered a half-volley at goal only to see it bounce off the bar, onto the line and away.

Substitute Traore cut the ball back for Olmo to fire straight at Patricio, before Kepa was at last called into action, saving well at the feet of Trincao after a good run from Joao Felix.

Portugal should have snatched the win in injury time too, Felix failing to turn the ball into the net after Ruben Semedo's glancing header.

 

What does it mean? Strikerless Spain looking sharp

Luis Enrique made it clear before the game that a lack of obvious options in the number nine role was not a particular concern for him.

He will certainly have been impressed with the way his makeshift line-up created several first-half openings before the game rather quietened down after the hour mark.

Portugal, who similarly fielded a weakened side, will consider this a good work-out before facing world champions France.

Late-bloomer Canales looks right at home

Spain's central midfield is an imposing place to be, but Sergio Canales was cool and accomplished here, misplacing just one of 53 passes and winning each of his two duels in a 62-minute outing.

Thiago Alcantara and Fabian Ruiz might be first choice alongside Sergio Busquets, but Canales - who is 29 and only made his Spain debut last year - looks worthy of such esteemed company.

Santos should consider striker-free approach

Portugal were under Spain's control in a first half in which centre-forward Andre Silva only touched the ball 13 times. When he was replaced by Bernardo Silva at half-time and Fernando Santos set up a more fluid forward line, the home side looked threatening every time they went forward.

Food for thought, perhaps.

What's next?

The next round of Nations League matches beckons this weekend. Spain host Switzerland on Saturday, with Portugal heading to France on Sunday.

Mikel Oyarzabal did not travel with Spain to Portugal for Wednesday's friendly after testing positive for coronavirus antibodies.

UEFA guidance on such PCR test results is that Oyarzabal should not be present at the stadium, despite not posing a risk of spreading COVID-19.

While Adama Traore withdrew from the squad in similar circumstances in September, Oyarzabal will remain in contention for the Nations League matches against Switzerland and Ukraine on Saturday and Tuesday pending further tests.

A statement from the Royal Spanish Football Federation read: "Mikel Oyarzabal did not travel with the national team to Portugal and is out for the friendly match in Lisbon after receiving the results of the last PCR carried out at Las Rozas.

"The Real Sociedad forward has been non-negative, although he has highly positive IgG antibodies, so he can carry out his professional activity with absolute normality and exercise with his team-mates since he does not pose any risk of contagion.

"In this sense, the UEFA protocol, as happened with Adama in September, recommends not going to the stadium if the result of the PCR is not totally negative.

"According to Spanish legislation for returning to football, Oyarzabal could train normally and play in official competitions, after the relevant periods from his first positive, if he remains without symptoms and has antibodies."

Spain head coach Luis Enrique continues to be amazed by the exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as he prepares his side to face the Portugal star.

La Roja travel to Lisbon this week to face Portugal on Wednesday in the first meeting between the sides since the 2018 World Cup group stages.

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, which included a stunning late free-kick, on that occasion to earn a 3-3 draw with Spain in Sochi.

Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has previously sided with Messi in the debate over who is the greatest modern player, describing the Blaugrana number 10 as the best in the world "in every position" and "the best in the history of football".

However, he has huge admiration for the way Juventus forward Ronaldo continues to strive for success at the age of 35 and after spending 18 years in senior football.

"Our goal doesn't change aside from the fact confronting a player of his profile can be motivational," he told reporters on Tuesday as he looked ahead to the friendly at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

"As a team, we will try to do things better than Portugal and try to cause them problems – that's the goal. Whether Ronaldo plays or not, the situation, the general approach to the game doesn't change.

"With regards to your other question, if you check through your newspaper archives, you already knew what my opinion is and I don't think it will be ideal for me again to comment on who is the best player in the world for me.

"What is worthy of praise is the fact that players like Cristiano and Leo Messi keep getting older but maintaining such a high level thanks to their professionalism, their ambition and their capacity to be motivated and keep achieving goals. Both Cristiano and Messi are examples of that."

Ronaldo has scored three goals and set up another in his first two Serie A appearances of 2020-21, with Juve beating Sampdoria 3-0 and then drawing 2-2 with Roma.

Messi has one goal in three LaLiga matches, with Barca beating Villarreal 4-0, Celta Vigo 3-0 and drawing 1-1 with Sevilla in Ronald Koeman's first three league games in charge.

Kepa Arrizabalaga acknowledged he is "not in the ideal situation" at Chelsea but is confident he can turn things around.

Chelsea signed Edouard Mendy from Rennes for a reported £22million after Kepa made an error leading to a goal in each of the Blues' opening two Premier League games.

Even though Mendy was not in condition to face West Brom in the first game following his arrival being confirmed, Kepa was dropped for Willy Caballero.

The Spain international, who Chelsea made the most expensive keeper in the world when they signed him from Athletic Bilbao two years ago, has spent the past two games on the bench.

Kepa was linked with a loan away from Chelsea before the transfer window closed on Monday, but he is sure he will soon rediscover his best form.

"I feel good, strong and confident," he said. "Maybe I'm not in the ideal situation, but you have to go through things like this during a career.

"I am confident that I can turn the situation around. When I have the chance to play, I'll try to do so as well as possible.

"Obviously, all footballers want to play, but I'm just thinking about the day to day, not the medium-term or long-term."

Spain boss Luis Enrique has been impressed by Kepa's work ethic on international duty despite his struggles with Chelsea.

"I've spoken to him and I think he is doing good," Luis Enrique said.

"He knows that what has happened isn't the end of the world.

"This is a moment to see what he is made of and I think he's doing good, as he is happy, motivated and training very well with us."

Spain take on Portugal in a friendly on Wednesday before Nations League meetings with Switzerland and Ukraine on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.

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