group c

Desailly tips France to surprise this summer

Quality but inexperienced side just need to build confidence from easy group phase

By Ashley HammondSenior Reporter
16:47 April 16, 2018
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Dubai: Inexperienced but quality France can spring a surprise in Russia provided they build confidence from an easy group, according to 1998 World Cup winning defender Marcel Desailly.

Les Bleus have been drawn in Group C alongside Australia, Peru and Denmark this summer and look to build upon their runners-up finish at the European Championships where they lost the final 1-0 at home to Portugal in 2016.

“They have quality but not the experience, so we hope that the group stage, which is apparently not that difficult, will allow them to build up the confidence that they need,” said the 49-year-old former Chelsea star at Sunday’s Hublot Match of Friendship at Dubai Opera, which was held to mark two months until Russia 2018.

“When you top up confidence plus talent you hope that yes, France will now surprise everyone.

“They surprised us during the Euros when we were not sure they were capable of reaching the final, and they almost won, so maybe they can do the same with the World Cup.

“We need a win, it’s been too long. It’s the 20th anniversary of us winning the World Cup, so it would be good if they could win it this year.”

He did however warn that a lot had changed since the Euros.

“We’ve lost all confidence built up during the Euros, we’ve lost our left and right backs in defence (Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna have retired from international football), and we have new players who have to adapt to each other. Didier Deschamps doesn’t really know about his tactical set-up or his philosophy, so there’s quite a lot of work to do.

“The Euros are gone and now you are starting a new movement. You can say they are ready for the next Euros hoping maybe that they are going to surprise everybody at the World Cup — that is the position of France.”

Former Real Madrid midfielder Christian Karembeu, who was also part of France’s one-and-only World Cup win at home in 1998, said that victory was symbolic because it brought players together from every ethnic background, and proved what the often divided country could achieve together.

Is this something France need now?

“I would like to think that, but the world has changed with all new technology. Do they really think about what is social responsibility or politics? I don’t know,” Karembeu said of the current players.

“Now they just think about their job and that’s normal because we push them to do so, and hopefully they have a great pathway to go and achieve their goal but it depends on each one and education.

“We thought this because we had this on our minds and we understood what is happening in our country and yes, I hope this could also, why not, tomorrow, if they do something, they could see that there are people behind the shirt.”