BUDAPEST (Reuters) - World champions France struggled to impose themselves in their 1-1 Euro 2020 draw against Hungary on Saturday in part due to facing a hostile crowd for the first time in months, goalscorer Antoine Griezmann said.
France rescued a point after Griezmann cancelled out Attila Fiola’s first half strike in front of a loud, 65,000-strong crowd at the Puskas Arena - one of the biggest at a game in Europe since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a difficult match with the fans (in the stands). We had lost the habit of playing in a full stadium. We couldn’t hear ourselves,” Griezmann told BeIN Sports.
“The pitch was dry, it was hot and heavy, but we knew that before the start of the match. We got caught out, we did not convert our chances and we paid the price.”
France remain top of the group, but heavyweights Germany and Portugal were also playing on Saturday in one of the toughest groups in the tournament.
“It’s the Euros with great nations and great players. Even against Hungary, it’s hard. It reminds me of the World Cup where we suffered, we knew it was not an easy group,” Griezmann added.
“We will have to rest and recover (before we play) Portugal. But I’m confident, we have a group and a bench that can make the difference.
“We will have to be solid, as against Germany ... We have to keep working, but I have confidence. I know we’re going to get there.”
Karim Benzema missed an early chance to give France the lead and the Real Madrid striker - who returned to the national team last month after a five-year exile - is yet to score in four matches.
However, coach Didier Deschamps said he had no doubts the 33-year-old would turn things around as he had enough experience under his belt.
“As with any forward, we know that he’s capable of beautiful things. He’s just not finding the back of the net as he used to,” Deschamps said.
“He knows that there are high expectations, he knows exactly what’s expected of him ... Yes, we expect forwards to score, but I want him to have that confidence and he has my confidence and he knows that.”
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne
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