“Can you describe the joy of the Blues in the locker room at the end of the match against Denmark (2-1 win Saturday night)?
It is a moment of communion. We are happy with the result and especially with the qualification. It’s a fight we managed to win. And inevitably, in the locker room we let our joy be expressed.
Do you think it is better for you to continue against Tunisia on Wednesday, or to be spared?
I haven’t talked to the coach about it yet. We will first think about what is best for the team and then what is best for me.
But you, what do you think?
The best thing is to have some playing time. Then we’ll see with the coach.
What did you think of your association with Dayot Upamecano?
It was our first game together in a two-man hinge. He is a player with many qualities, still young, who has taken many steps. He is right. We discussed a lot to create these automatisms, which are important in defense. We have complementary qualities. It’s a question of benchmarks on the ground. For this, communication is important. But he is an intelligent player and I felt comfortable with him.
What do you think of the record of selections (142) that Hugo Lloris is about to equal?
I have a lot of respect for him, the player and the man. It’s a chance to have this stability and this longevity in the France team. Hugo is a very, very reliable player who transmits his calm to the whole team. Respect because the high level is not easy and staying there is even more difficult.
Where does your collective serenity come from? And do you think it’s best to avoid Argentina in the round of 16?
The adversary, we will see. To go to the end, we will have to play big teams. No preference at this level. Afterwards, the group is serene. We rely on this mentality of competitors. We have this rage to win. There is a good osmosis between the youngest and the oldest. You have to stay the course.
“Talent is not enough, you always have to have that conquering spirit. Going into Game 3 qualified is a luxury that few teams can have.”
Can the France team go to the end of this World Cup with this system of 4 offensives?
I don’t feel more fragile. We have to find a balance. It is up to us to keep the system running smoothly. We weren’t in any more trouble with having an extra attacking player. The opponent will also have to think before attacking because we have the possibility of counter-attacking. What we lose on one side, we gain on the other. It just takes a balance.
You have been in the France team for ten years. Where do you place it in relation to the previous ones?
A team that draws on the experience of 2016 and 2018 with a growing youth. It’s a good mix between experience and youth. This group has a lot of talent. We must continue to work with the same values that have made our success in recent years.
You hadn’t played since October 22: did you have a little apprehension yesterday and at what level of your athletic potential do you stand?
No particular apprehension, no, because from the moment the coach put me in charge, it was because I had no apprehension. It’s never easy to pick up on a World Cup match, but I was ready. Obviously, I am not yet at 100% of my physical potential. I worked hard to be here and I hope to improve during this competition.
What did you say to yourself when you were in tears on the lawn of Stamford Bridge, this October 22, holding your thigh? When did you say to yourself that you would be ready for Qatar?
It was a difficult time. I thought then that the injury was more serious than expected, that it was over for the World Cup. From the moment the diagnosis was playable, I went into express mode. It took a lot of effort, a lot of sacrifice to be ready in the timings. Today, I enjoy every moment. It is always extraordinary to defend the colors of his country, to represent France. I had a lot of desire and rage to win.
Some present you as the leader who replaces Paul Pogba.
(He laughs) Paul is irreplaceable. It is important to have executive players in the group. It comes naturally to talk to the group. Everyone does it in their own way. Paul has his personality which is strong. He was very important for the group but in his absence, it’s up to other players to talk a little more. Everyone does it with their own personality. Depending on the needs of the group, some players assert themselves.
How would you define the game of the France team?
We are quite unpredictable. You can play with a low block, with a high pressing, in possession, in counter-attack. We have players with different qualities. We are quite complementary. It’s up to us to find the right weapon depending on the opponent and the time of the match. The goal is to be as efficient as possible. We have players on the sides who have the ability to unbalance. The sides are often the solution. This is where we have very talented players. »