“How should the Blues approach this World Cup in November?
There is a factor that has not been highlighted, it is this lack of preparation, this short time before this World Cup in November. In the case of the France team, where there are a lot of injuries, where there have been stories, I think it’s good to get straight to the heart of the matter. Between the Euros and the World Cup, I played in four final stages… You lose players in this long preparation: the guys who are phenomena in their clubs and who during this internship gamble for the two, three weeks preceding the competition.
The pressure is building, you really feel it. You have guys coming in with confidence, the best scorers, the best defenders, and the closer the competition gets, the less they have… and a week before the tournament, you know they’re not going to play much. Every day you ask yourself: ‘am I going to play or not? In what position?” Psychologically it’s difficult. That’s why in the end the team was made naturally. You lose those who are not ready to rise to an incredible level. In 1998, there was such a strong demand that it was difficult for the players with this natural but strong competition in the group. If you add the press, the outside pressure… So today, as there are a lot of absentees and new players, it is perhaps better that there is no preparation. They will be confronted with ”live” immediately.
“Whoever does not prepare for the World Cup when it comes after three months is that he has understood nothing”
Why are the defending champions still struggling four years later?
It’s hard… There is a completely different expectation around the defending champion and very few teams are prepared for that: defending the title. We are ready to conquer, but to defend a title, no. Especially collectively. A tennis player who is defending his title, is all alone in his bubble and is preparing for this. But defending a football world championship title, collectively, is weird. In four years the groups evolve. It’s very complicated. Even analyzing 2002, I wouldn’t have a magic formula to bring.
Who are the favorites of this World Cup?
Brazil, Argentina, France. It’s been a long time since the South Americans won (Brazil in 2002, Argentina have not been crowned since 1986). It’s going to be an incredible World Cup, it’s November, not the end of the season and the players are on fire.
When they’re not hurt…
Yes for sure… But normally you shouldn’t be hurt… You can’t be hurt there. When last season ends, your goal is the World Cup, not the first rounds of the Champions League or the Championship. Whoever does not prepare for the World Cup when it arrives after three months is that he has understood nothing.
Messi, Neymar, the stars are already ready…
Yes, but they are not alone in their selections. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a balance in the Argentina and Brazil teams. They don’t just play for Messi or Neymar. Before, in Argentina, we had the impression that there was Messi who made the team and his friends. There really is a group there. I also saw Brazil play against Tunisia (5-1 in September at the Parc des Princes). One thing surprised me: after the fourth goal, coach Tite went to kiss all the substitutes! There I said to myself: ”the guys are on a mission. They are ready. We are going to have an intense World Cup and real surprises.
Spain or England”.