PARIS, March 4 (Reuters) - France, who have failed to shine at major tournaments since the 2006 World Cup, cannot pretend to be among this year's World Cup favourites, coach Didier Deschamps said on Tuesday.
Les Bleus won the World Cup on home soil in 1998 and followed up with the Euro 2000 title before Zinedine Zidane's comeback inspired them to the 2006 World Cup final.
They have never recovered from the playmaker's retirement, however, being knocked out in the first round of Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup before reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.
"We cannot pretend to be among the favourites as there are teams who have been performing strongly in the past four or five years," Deschamps told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's home friendly against the Netherlands.
"You can discuss the FIFA rankings (system) but it's there," he added, referring to France's 18th place in the list.
France have been equally unimpressive lately, overturning a 2-0 deficit against Ukraine in their European zone playoff tie to qualify for this year's World Cup with a 4-0 victory at the Stade de France.
"Teams fear us because France always had that talent," captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said. (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)
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