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France coach joins debate on poor state of Euro pitches

Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - France Training - Stadium Nord Lille Metropole, Villeneuve-d'ascq, France - 18/6/16 - France coach Didier Deschamps during training. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - France Training - Stadium Nord Lille Metropole, Villeneuve-d'ascq, France - 18/6/16 - France coach Didier Deschamps during training. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

LILLE, France (Reuters) - France coach Didier Deschamps joined a growing debate on the poor state of pitches at Euro 2016 on Saturday by voicing worries about the playing conditions at the Lille stadium where his side will face Switzerland in their final Group A match.

France switched to a nearby stadium for their final training session to preserve the pitch of the venue for Sunday's match.

"It's not ideal but we were confronted to that two years ago already (at the World Cup) in Brazil," Deschamps told a news conference. "If we can't train on it, it means there are a few worries. It's unfortunate but we have to adapt".

France goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris told the same news conference that the condition of the pitches at the tournament was a real problem.

"It's a bit surprising in general and it's not just Lille," he said. "It was like that at the Velodrome (stadium in Marseille), where the ground was really difficult to play on", he added, referring to France's 2-0 victory over Albania in their second Group A match.

UEFA said it was unhappy about the state of pitches in France, in particular in Marseille, Saint Denis, outside Paris, where the showcase Stade de France is located, and Lille.

The European governing body said it was working to improve the pitches as the championship enters its second week under unusually wet weather.

The surface in Marseille has drawn the greatest criticism. Deschamps called it a disaster and questioned the stadium owners' decision to hold a rock concert by AC/DC at the Stade Velodrome a few weeks before the tournament.

France are already sure of going through to the last 16 and will fight for first place in their group when they face Switzerland.

"We are professional players and we need to adapt to the circumstances," Lloris said. "We'll try to offer a nice show by playing good football despite the state of the pitch".

(Writing by Patrick Vignal in Paris, editing by Julien Pretot)

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