Didier Deschamps warns France to not fall for post-World Cup hype



France coach Didier Deschamps has told his players that they should view their World Cup win in Russia this summer as a source of “strength” and not a “burden” to live up to.

Les Bleus beat Croatia 4-2 in the Moscow final in July and will play their first competitive match since then against Germany in UEFA’s new Nations League tournament at Allianz Arena on Thursday.

Speaking at a pre-match news conference on Wednesday, Deschamps warned his squad about believing their own hype.

“I told my players that this title must be a strength, not a burden,” the French tactician said. “If we fall to euphoria, we will quickly be caught.”

Defender Raphael Varane echoed Deschamps’ point of view and insisted that it is back to business for the French, who now want to add continental success to their world glory.

“Our status as world champions will not change the way that we approach our games,” said the Real Madrid man. “We are enjoying this success but already planning the next.”

Deschamps is a fan of UEFA’s introduction of the Nations League and can see nothing but positive things in it.

“The Nations League is a great opportunity to qualify for the European Championships,” he said. “The format might seem a bit complicated, but I only see opportunity.”

Varane admitted that the Nations League giving them a trip to Germany first is a good thing, even if he and his teammates are looking forward to getting back to Paris and Stade de France to face the Netherlands this weekend.

“Sunday will be great,” he said. “I think that we are deserving of a nice homecoming. However, starting with a big away match is also a good thing.”

Deschamps believes that a number of his players, notably Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, deserve to be considered for the Ballon d’Or after being overlooked by FIFA’s “The Best” awards.

Varane is pleased to be spoken about as a potential Ballon d’Or winner but feels Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and N’Golo Kante are also deserving.

“I am glad that we are talking about me as a potential Ballon d’Or winner,” said the 25-year-old. “However, there are other deserving players in this team, such as Kylian and Antoine, N’Golo too — somebody who often goes unmentioned.

“It is not a contentious issue within the squad — we do not even talk about it.”

For his part, Griezmann told L’Equipe that he has a realistic chance of winning the Ballon d’Or this year but has criticised FIFA for failing to recognise any French players at “The Best” awards. 

Deschamps also revealed that the whole squad is match-ready and hinted that he will field the same starting XI that won the World Cup final against Croatia, with the exception of absent captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

“All of the players are physically ready to start,” said the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship-winning former captain. “From then on, everything is open.

“I could realign the starting XI from the final… Or not.”

Varane is excited for Paris Saint-Germain reserve goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who currently boasts a World Cup winners’ medal without having made his senior debut and is set to start against Germany.

“Alphonse is a world champion in his own right,” said Varane. “He has tremendous physical qualities and his style is quite different from Hugo’s.

“I am sure that Alphonse will play his part perfectly.”

Deschamps also rejected the idea that he will stick with the successful 4-4-2 formation that secured World Cup success in Russia and that he could change shape if the circumstances call for it.

“I am not wedded to any particular system,” he said. “That said, the 4-4-2 did satisfy our needs at the World Cup and allowed us to impose ourselves.

“Anything is possible, depending on the context.”





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