“There have been a lot of controversies and positions around the rainbow armband since your arrival in Qatar. Could this have disturbed the team?
When we left, we were very active on these issues, it’s true. And when I say ”we”, I’m talking about the whole Federation. The players, the staff, we have to focus on football. It had no impact on our performance against Tunisia (0-0). We are here to play a World Cup.
The France team has been hit by a lot of injuries in recent weeks, Raphaël Varane is still uncertain. Does it give you more chances of victory?
I hope. But Varane is a great player, and we’ll see tomorrow (Saturday) if he will play. The French have a lot of good players anyway, especially with Upamecano, Theo Hernandez too, who replaced his brother (Lucas). We still hope to do something in this game. We scored and won in September (in the League of Nations, 2-0), we want to try to do the same against an opponent who belongs to the best, defending champion. It’s a strong and robust team, different in its animation from the one we faced in June and September. But we know that if we play at our best level, we have a chance.
“No matter the plan, against such fast players, sometimes you just can’t slow them down. We thought about how to do it”
Mbappé made a remarkable entry into the competition. Do you fear him in particular? Do you have a plan to stop him?
I don’t think we need to be afraid, and no, we don’t have a plan to stop him. Just kidding, we have one of course. In Copenhagen (in September), we had one too, we had a good structure. But, no matter the plan, against such fast players, sometimes you just can’t slow them down. We thought about how to do it.
Simon Kjaer in the fight with Olivier Giroud in the League of Nations. (Simon Stacpoole/OFFSIDE/Sports Press)
Olivier Giroud and Simon Kjaer are teammates in Milan and friends in life. Can Simon give you any advice on containing the French striker?
I hope that’s an advantage. But a player like Giroud is excellent in what he knows how to do best, in the penalty area. It’s a pleasure to see a striker of this age, with this experience, still at this level. He’s probably even better than before. Simon obviously knows him very well, and we talked about him. I hope his advice will help us.
Are you planning to watch the Australia – Tunisia match, which will be played before yours?
No, I don’t think I’ll see it, but I’ll be told the result. This will necessarily be of great importance before our match against France but we will have to focus on our performance, our reading of the game.
How influential is Christian Eriksen in your team?
Morten Olsen and Age Hareide, my two predecessors, all mentioned that Christian was the beating heart of the team. He understands the game, the intensity of a match. He is always available, always good in controlling the game, he knows when to pass short, when to pass longer. He always has a crucial reflection on the game, and therefore he is crucial for us. »