By William Schomberg
RIO DE JANEIRO, July 4 (Reuters) - France coach Didier Deschamps said missed chances and a lack of big-game experience among his players gave Germany a vital edge to knock Les Bleus out of the World Cup.
France impressed earlier in the competition by cruising through their group matches and beating Nigeria 2-0 in the first knock-out round.
That proved enough to give Germany a 1-0 win in the quarter-final played at the Maracana, the third time in a row that they have beaten France at the World Cup.
"We didn't have the efficiency that you need as this level, especially after Germany went ahead," Deschamps said.
The former France captain, who lifted the World Cup trophy in 1998, said he was looking forward to building on what has been a remarkable turnaround from France's ignominious exit in the first round of the 2010 World Cup.
"I am very proud of the players. There is some work to do with what we have now," he said. "We must keep our spirit and our quality. It's tough when you've just been eliminated, but I prefer to stress all the positives about the team."
Asked about the difference between the two teams on Friday, Deschamps said: "Not a lot," before mentioning three times the experience of the German players in competing in the later stages of World Cups and Euro tournaments.
Germany have played in two semi-finals and one final in the previous three World Cups although they have not won the trophy since 1990.
Deschamps also praised Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who made vital saves to prevent France from equalising, including a last-gasp stop when Karim Benzema looked like he was about to force the game into extra time.
"We're heading back tonight with a lot of sadness, disappointment and frustration but we mustn't forget all the good things we have achieved up to now," he said. "I can take a lot of pride...in how far we have come." (Writing by William Schomberg, Editing by Nigel Hunt)