Friday, January 27, 2023

Deschamps: France feels alone against the world

DOHA ( Associated Press) — France coach Didier Deschamps understands most non-Argentine fans will root for the Albiceleste in the World Cup final so Lionel Messi can say goodbye to soccer’s biggest event.

Indeed, Deschamps senses that some in France may be hoping that would be the result as well.

“I’m happy to be alone in the world, it doesn’t matter to me,” Deschamps said with a smile on the eve of the title match on Saturday.

In this World Cup, the prevailing feeling is that Deschamps and the French team have had to fight against the current at all times.

The World Cup began in France with a succession of injuries, with Karim Benzema, Christopher Nkunku and Presnel Kimpembe adding to the casualty list, which already included Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.

And they accomplish it with a squad depleted by a virus that caused defender Dayot Upamecano and midfielder Adrien Rabiot to miss the semi-final win against Morocco. Three other players – center backs Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate and winger Kingsley Coman – were unable to train on Friday, two days before the final. All of them took part in training on the last Saturday before the finals.

Deschamps willingly accepts the circumstances.

He said, ‘We try to do the best we can. “We try to deal with the situation without complicating ourselves.”

That chant could well describe France’s march to the final.

In the quarter-finals against England and the semi-finals against Morocco, Les Bleus fought hard in the early stages to take the lead on the scoreboard. They then set out to retreat and play on the counterattack – a strategy that came into effect four years ago when they won their second title.

Can they repeat it against Argentina who have Messi in a standout moment?

“There are always things in a match that you are not prepared for,” said France captain Hugo Lloris, who is seeking to become the first captain of the men’s team to win two world titles. “That’s when you have to demonstrate collective cohesion and you have to let go of everyone else to carry on in tough times.”

“We are a good team because we know how to adapt to different scenarios,” he said.

It is in France’s mind that Messi is Argentina’s linchpin determined to deliver their star the only great title that has eluded him in his career.

Lloris, however, cautioned that focusing only on Messi is dangerous for the team.

“I think this event is too important to focus on just one player,” said the goalkeeper. “It is a final between two great footballing nations. Obviously, when you face a player like him (Messi) you need to pay special attention, but it is not just him.

“Argentina is a strong team and there are many other players, a young generation that is coming up, and you can feel that they are all dedicated to Leo Messi,” he said.

Deschamps did not reveal whether any players affected by the virus would miss the final, explaining he would receive new information later on Saturday during training. Upamecano and Rabiot returned to practice on Friday.

Someone who has definitely been ruled out for Sunday is Benzema, who suffered a left thigh injury the day before the start of the World Cup.

Benzema, the previous Ballon d’Or winner, returned to training with Real Madrid despite the fact that he is still registered on the French payroll.

Deschamps doesn’t want to talk more about the attacker.

“(Benzema) was injured at the start of the World Cup and (left-back) Lucas Hernandez was injured in the first game,” Deschamps said. “Since then, I have had 24 players to manage.”

“It’s a bit strange to raise questions about these players,” he said.

Benzema posted a photo of himself on Instagram on Friday night and a brief phrase: “I’m not interested.” Could not establish message context immediately.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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