For Lloris and Deschamps, optimism before an “important match” against Australia

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The French team, the reigning world champion, competes against Australia in the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday. Despite the accumulation of last-minute packages and underperformance in recent months, coach Didier Deschamps and his captain refused to give in to doubts during the pre-match press conference.

“We will be there”, promised Didier Deschamps. While the cascade of injuries that have plagued the Blues for several months has reached its climax with that of the Golden Ball 2022, Karim Benzemathe coach of the Blues appeared concentrated and sure of his forces on Monday November 21, on the eve of the entry into the running of the French team against Australia for the Mondial-2022.

“The first match of a competition is always important. Being defending champion, there must be more waiting“, explains Hugo Lloris

However, the circumstances and especially a strange statistic could send shivers down their spines. In the World Cup that followed the first victory at home [en 1998]the Blues had indeed launched a sad trend: that of the outgoing champion eliminated in the first round. Indeed since 2002, Italy (2006 champion), Spain (2010 champion), Germany (2014 champion) have all experienced the misfortune of early elimination. Only Brazil (champion 2002) escaped it.

However, this series does not concern Deschamps: “We must not think of statistics or analyzes, but of the truth on the ground”, assured Didier Deschamps. “My group is not apprehensive, they are looking forward. This first match is not decisive, but it is important.”

The recent results of his team would however encourage nervousness. Since the title of 2018, the technician has gone through bad times, starting with the Euro in 2021, finished in the round of 16 on an unlikely scenario with a Swiss comeback (3-3 (4-5 Tab)).

His Blues were able to recover three and a half months later by overthrowing Belgium (3 to 2) and Spain (2 to 1), two leaders, to win the League of Nations. But the worries have resumed even more in this same competition, with a failed 2022 campaign in the great widths: a single victory, two draws and three defeats, including two against the Danes whom they will face on Saturday in Doha. The dynamic is clearly bad for the French, with their beautiful mechanics hampered by non-paying tactical choices.

A lack of experience with the Blues?

Without departing from his good mood, the native coach of Bayonne tried to silence all the concerns, in particular on the lack of experience of his frame which, cthe last few months, lost his magic doublet of midfielders N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba, as well as half of his central defensive hinge, Presnel Kimpembe, and his striker, Karim Benzema.

Didier Deschamps ended the soap opera which concerns Raphael Varane, who has been away from the field since October 22 due to a thigh injury. As the suspense continued to hover, he assured that he was “fit and available” for the game against Australia. But, during evening training, the Manchester United central defender was not part of the tactical set-up and should therefore logically start on the bench for the first game.

However, the return of Varane for the rest of the competition should bring some experience and serenity back to a French team deprived of its leaders. “Karim’s package [Benzema] is a real blow because of what it represents, especially for the youngest members of the team”, admitted captain Hugo Lloris.

“We have a lot of young people, it’s true, but they have the talent. If they’re there, it’s because they have the full confidence of the coach,” assured the French goalkeeper.

Didier Deschamps does not intend to ask players like Antoine Griezmann, who is more discreet off the field, to force his nature to take responsibility and supervise the younger generation: “Being a leader in a locker room cannot be decreed overnight” , he explained. “It takes years to build.”

And to take the example of Kylian Mbappé: “Mbappé is young. He is necessarily less young than in Russia and he has matured and progressed. However, he does not have more responsibility internally.”

Australia, a known adversary

With his usual derision, Didier Deschamps kindly scolded journalists who were worried about the France team without asking questions about the future Australian opponent.

An Australia that the France team knows well since it had already faced it when he entered the competition in 2018, with the happy result at the World Cup that we know. To listen to Hugo Lloris, the Blues group did not rely on this match to prepare for the new deadline:

“The match will necessarily be different. Our squad and theirs have evolved. On the other hand, we know that we don’t want to leave the match in the same way as in 2018: with an insufficient performance compared to our ambitions “, explains the Tottenham goalkeeper.

And to remember that concerns are normal on the eve of the World Cup: “In 2018, when we start the competition, we have no certainty”, remembers Hugo Lloris, “success is built match after match.”

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For Lloris and Deschamps, optimism before an “important match” against Australia