The defender of the Blues, world champion in 2018, gave an offensive and ambitious speech at a press conference this Friday in Doha.
At the Jassim-bin-Hamad stadium,
Surprised or not to be announced left-back by Deschamps : “Lately, I’ve played a lot more in the center with Bayern, but I know this left-back position perfectly. Whether it’s one or the other, I know both and I feel very comfortable. You can be reassured, if the coach puts me at left back I will defend the jersey as I always have. The two posts have nothing to do with each other. You have to know how to manage your efforts in the axis, on the left, it’s more intense. If I have to start on the side, I know what I have to do and if I have to finish in the centre, I also know what my job will be. These are two positions that I know perfectly. The automatisms are there, I know my teammates perfectly, I am adapted to this team. We will prepare well for this match today, Saturday and Sunday.»
The left-back position shared with his brother Theo : “To be in competition with my brother is a pride. Already, it’s incredible to do a World Cup with my brother, we’re going to enjoy it. But I will be very happy and proud if he plays. Seeing his brother play in a World Cup is incredible. These are only beautiful emotions, only pride.»
New dimension with the packages of certain important elements : “Paul (Pogba) and NG (Kante) are very important players, executives. Afterwards, I am reserved off the field, it is not me who speaks in front of everyone, I speak on the field, I make sure that my teammates follow me on the field.»
His memories of Australia in 2018: “We haven’t started preparing for the game against Australia yet. Yesterday (Thursday) was training open to the press, as you know, it’s not the right time to prepare for the match (laughs). We can’t wait to start the competition, we’re all hungry, I can assure you. Against Australia, it was not an easy match in 2018, they put us in difficulty but we won and started the competition well. We expect aggressive Australians, after that it will be up to us to respond on the pitch.»
News from Karim Benzema and Raphaël Varane: “They are two very important players for us, with almost 100 caps. After the staff and the medical manage the two to put them in the best conditions against Australia. I can’t tell you if they’ll be there on Tuesday or not. If unfortunately they don’t arrive in time, we have a fantastic group with regular players in the big clubs, we have our backs covered and we are all confident of the quality we have in this group and in this selection.»
His form after his injury : “I had this injury at the last second against Barça (in C1 with Bayern). I thought it would be less serious than it was but I am very strong mentally, calm, I knew that with what the medical staff felt, I will go to the World Cup without worry. It was not easy, I worked a lot. I thank all the medical staff of Bayern, the physical trainers, they are doing everything for me to be here. I’m 100%, I have no pain, I’m in great shape to start the competition.»
These will be fights, and to win the fights, you need good warriors.
Atmosphere similar to 2018: “The preparation time is much less because we only have one week. In 2018 we had almost a month. The group lives well, the coach has taken on fabulous football players and above all top people. We’ve only been together for four days, we’re in the best conditions, with the games rooms, the hotel, we have everything to get along well off the pitch, that was seen in 2018 and I hope that will be seen in 2022 in Qatar. We are all hungry, want to start this competition. These will be fights, and to win the fights, you need good warriors. Everyone is going in the same direction, we can make a difference in front but we will also need soldiers and be rigorous.»
The opponents of France in hens : “We have to start there, they will put us in difficulty. It is up to us to respond on the ground. It will be football matches but also fights and it will take warriors. We want to start well against Australia. Then we can prepare Denmark and Tunisia.»
The difficulty of entering a World Cup : “We are all expected, now even more because we are defending champions. I distance myself from everything that surrounds the first match and the expectation around the France team. I focus on myself, it’s the same for my teammates. It’s not easy to start a World Cup, it’s always tricky, but winning against Australia will launch the World Cup perfectly. We all want to be there.»
A renewed group : “There are a lot of young people, I consider myself one too… There are a lot of players with few caps but who have club experience. They can bring us a lot, something new. It’s up to the coach to decide who will play, but we all want to start the competition. Everyone will follow the same path, the same direction, try to go as far as possible. It will go through the group matches and we will see for the rest. (…) Young people are also aware of the importance of the first match. It won’t be just that one, we also know the challenge against Denmark and finishing against Tunisia. Whether young or old, we all know the difficulty of a World Cup. Maybe the elders can deliver advice, keep their emotions, focus on the game and not waste time on what is said or written in the newspapers. It must be the strong point of this match and forget the context around.»
Kylian Mbappé is an extraordinary player with incredible qualities, it’s an honor to have him in our team and not opposite.
Set the mood in the absence of Pogba : “Smile ? It’s the personality, I’m always like that, smiling, I like talking to all the players, all my partners can count on me, I’ll always be there, with a smile of course. After all, everyone has their own personality. You can’t compare me with Paul, another dimension, a real manager, we will miss him, but we have players who will replace him very well. Off the field, you can count on me, always with a smile.»
Kylian Mbappe : “He is an extraordinary player with incredible qualities, it is an honor to have him in our team and not in front. I will have time to play against him in February (during the round of 16 of the PSG-Bayern Champions League, editor’s note)… He is a player who can make a difference at any time. We will try to put it in the best conditions. We count on him, on all the players. He has matured a lot since 2018, an extra player on and off the pitch, he is a part of the France team and he is very appreciated within the team.»
Statements taken at a press conference