Deschamps: “This is not the time to talk about my future”
The France coach looked ahead to Saturday’s quarter final clash with England with Hugo Lloris who will make history with Les Blues at Al-Bayt Stadium.
France coach Didier Deschamps on the eve of the fourth and last quarter final at Qatar 2022, between the defending world champions and England. The 54-year-old coach noted the quality that England has on the counter-attack, praised Kylian Mbappé, whom he considers “decisive despite not having a good last game” and did not want to talk about his future. He was accompanied by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris who will become France’s most capped player of all-time, as he is set to overtake Lilian Thuram, at Al-Bayt Stadium tomorrow.
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“We have to remain calm tomorrow - just like we have since the tournament began. It’s a World Cup quarter final, there’s no stress, no pressure. We’re delighted to be where we are. The players have to enjoy themselves out on the pitch tomorrow”, Deschamps replied when asked about how his players will deal with the nerves of playing a quarter final.
Two players facing suspension
“Regarding Tchouaméni and Koundé, they know that tomorrow they could be suspended in the semi-finals if they are booked. These things are part of the competition. The only thing that matters is that they play a good game and that they help the team to reach the semi-finals. They don’t have to hold back, that would be the worst thing they can do,” he said about Tchouaméni and Koundé, who are both one booking away from suspension.
“England are a team that do a lot of damage on the counter-attack. They have scored a lot of goals from those moves in the World Cup. They have a lot of quality. The quality they have, the ability to score goals, even from set pieces... It’s no coincidence that England will be our opponents tomorrow. They are a great team,” the coach continued. “I don’t think that we are defending set pieces. I don’t share the media’s opinion on that. Even if we have struggled occasionally from set-pieces; I think it’s an area where we can do damage in this facet. England have scored quite a few goals from set-pieces, but we can’t let that worry us”.
Much of the focus on Saturday will be Kylian Mbappé - the tournament’s top scorer on five goals. The PSG will is seeking to win his second World Cup and pick up the Golden Boot - an award he missed out on at Russia 2018 as it went to Harry Kane. “I imagine that England will have studied Mbappé, like our four previous rivals. Kylian has that ability to make a difference. In the last game, in which he was not at his best level compared to the first two, he continued to be decisive,” Deschamps said of Mbappé.
The French coach dodged a question about his future, adding that “this was not the right time” to be commenting on things that have not yet taken place, such as the planned meeting with FFF president Noël Le Graët after the World Cup, and that “the most important thing is to book our place in the semi-finals.”
Lloris: “Tomorrow’s game will be decided by small details”
Team captain Hugo Lloris will make his 143rd appearance for France’s senior side against England, to become the player to have represented Les Bleus the most time in history. Having been on the books at Spurs for the past 10 years, he has played against most of England’s stars many times.
“I think the England team is known throughout the world - especially thanks to the Premier League and its competitive teams - teams which I play against all the time. They are a very strong team from set-pieces. In a match like this, all the minor details will count. We know how demanding these matches are. We have arguments in attack to put them in trouble. It is a match in which you have to respond on the pitch”, he said. “Mbappé will play his game as he always does, he has done his preparation. I think that we cannot distract ourselves by talking about what might or might not happen before the game (regarding the duel with Kyle Walker). We have very precise objectives. I see Mbappé as being very focused. Nothing disturbs him from the outside. He’s focused on what he has been doing since the beginning of the tournament.
“I think there could be a great football rivalry between England and France. They are two great soccer nations. But having said that, there are many teams of a high level. It will be a great match, a great battle. An event like this, a World Cup quarter final, is huge. For our part, we have prepared the game to respond on the field in a quarter final, regardless of the opponent. We will try to reach the semi-finals. England have a lot of ambition and have come here to win. It will be a great game as all of the great players want to make it a success,“ he said regarding the rivalry with England.
“The most important thing for me is still on the field and I don’t want to be distracted by things they say about me in the English press (some consider him the “weak point” of the team). They have their opinions and we will respond in the field. Regarding set-pieces, we will try not to commit fouls near the box to avoid defending one of their strong points. Goalkeepers must also adapt to the new set-piece criteria for goalkeepers, which are not the same as in Europe. I have already adapted in the Premier League and in the Champions League”, he added about the criticism from the English press regarding his form.
Lastly, he spoke about his club team mate Harry Kane, the great English threat: “We have a pretty strong relationship. We know each other very well on and off the pitch. I only have positive things to say about him. He is a very important person at Tottenham and in the English team. He is a true leader, an example to his peers. Above all, he is a top player, decisive at the club and who has the habit of making a difference. He is known worldwide, we are not going to find out about him now”.