The Blues dream of breaking the curse of the world champions


The players and technical staff of the French team in training at the Jassim-Ben-Hamad stadium in Doha on November 17. FRANCK FIFE/AFP

The Tricolores have won only one of their last six games and they have had a lot of problems with the withdrawals of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté and Presnel Kimpembe to name a few.

“We will do everything to bring the cup home.” At 36, Olivier Giroud is still hungry. And all his little comrades from the France team too, before starting the World Cup. If they were to lift the trophy on December 18, it is because the reigning world champions would have overcome the Indian sign and… the curse. Do not see in it a pessimistic vision with esoteric accents or the predictions of an octopus diviner. A statistical reality: the last three world champions (Italy, Spain, Germany) were eliminated in the group stages. “You can go back even further!», quips Didier Deschamps. Very just. With France in 2002, four of the last five defending champions left before the round of 16. “I’ll take an extra tube of aspiringrinds the coach. You want to undermine my morale? You won’t make it.” And to continue:It shows the difficulty and the requirement of the high level. Winning is very difficult. Maintaining is even more so! We are not going to go there telling each other, because we are world champion, but we will make sure to do everything to be the most efficient.”

Except that there are other statistics which do not plead in favor of France. For example, no team has managed the double since Brazil in 1958 and 1962. Add to that that the Tricolores have won only one of their last six games and problems in spades, with the withdrawals of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté and Presnel Kimpembe to name a few, three potential holders, not to mention the uncertainties about the Ballon d’Or Karim Benzema and Raphaël Varane, and you get an explosive cocktail. “In 2021, we were the most beautiful and the strongest and we didn’t even have to enter the field to win the matches“, recalls Deschamps, evoking the fiasco of the last Euro, that his team of France had approached in the costume of the ultrafavorite. And to add:I have confidence in this group and I am sure that they will do everything to fight.”

big blur

A group of 26 in which “DD” had to make changes until the departure for Qatar (Disasi and Kolo Muani to replace Kimpembe and Nkunku), with an experimental central hinge, a midfielder who will not be less and a flashy attacking trio (Mbappé-Griezmann-Benzema) that still needs to be set to music. In terms of system, the captain of the 1998 world champions will go back to four players in defense. For the rest, it’s the big blur. The objective of the FFF is however clear: the last four, at least. In this case, it is also Deschamps who will have control over his future. Otherwise, President Noël Le Graët will decide.

I know we will do everything. I trust these players to give their all. It’s not seeing yourself as more beautiful than you are. I think that the French sportsman, all disciplines combined, is not the best when he is in comfort. We can’t say we’re really comfortablesmiles Deschamps. Not too much, indeed. But it is no coincidence that the entire football world places the France team among the favorites of the World Cup. There is quality in this group. Doubts, of course, but talent to spare. And Didier Deschamps at the helm, a real asset… “There is a first objective before seeing each other further, getting out of the pools and entering a second competition“, he continues. Defender Lucas Hernandez said nothing else. “Faced with the world champion, the other nations will always want to give their allsays the Bayern player, trying to explain this curse of the world champion. We are aware of it. We know we have the quality to qualify for the 8are finals and go as far as possible. We have a supergroup, the coach made a superchoice, we are all going in the same direction.» That of the title? It will be necessary to overcome the rest of the world and… the curse.



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