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Pre-Ukraine vs France Press Conference: The Highlights: Clairefontaine: Deschamps, Koscielny, Pogba, Ribery and more

A press conference was held earlier today at the French national team’s training headquarters Clairefontaine with 4 days to go until the 1st leg of France’s World Cup Qualifying Playoff vs Ukraine. Didier Deschamps, Blaise Matuidi, Franck Ribery, Rio Mavuba, Paul Pogba, Laurent Koscielny and Franck Ribery all attended. Here are the highlights: 

Didier Deschamps:

On why the team’s training will be behind closed doors on Tuesday and Wednesday: ‘It is because we have two very important training sessions ahead of us. It is to keep the squad calm.’ 

On whether or not the playing conditions in Ukraine will pose a problem:It is easier to play in colder conditions than it is to play in warmer ones.’

On Franck Ribery:Ribery is clearly a key player for us. Whether it is he who is a decisive factor or someone else…we shall see.’ 

On the opposition:Their full backs have the ability to bomb forward or to attack the middle. We must pay attention to that. Ukraine have an aggressive mind set. We can combat that. The players have said that there could have been a worse draw for us, not that this was the ideal draw.’ 

On selection:I already have a team in mind for Friday’s game.’ 

On Friday’s spectacle: The playoffs create an exciting atmosphere. It gives the players adrenaline. We must channel that positively. 0-0 would not be a bad result. There could certainly be better. It is important to score away from home.’

On the playoff system: The playoffs? We are where we are. I do not know if this is the best way of doing things.’ 


Blaise Matuidi:

On the importance of these games: For me these are the two most important games of the year. These are two games that could take us to Brazil. We must give big performances. I want us to qualify, I do not care how. This World Cup is not just any one. It is a World Cup in Brazil. That only happens once in your career.’ 

On France’s transformation: ‘A month ago, we were in the dumps and we responded. We can be happy with that.’ 

On Yarmolenko: ‘Yarmolenko is high on confidence at the moment. He is a talented player. He is someone who scores goals, with a very good left foot. He runs down the right hand channels a lot.’ 

On Ribery: ‘Ribery alleviates us all. He is one of the best players in the world at the moment, if not the best.’


Rio Mavuba:

On his return to the squad: I have returned at a big moment. The next two games are the biggest under Deschamps’ tenure. It is a great honour to be here. The game time I get, what ever I can bring, I am ready.’ 

On the French public: ‘Now is a good moment for the French national team. The public is behind us, we need them in the next 10 days.’ 

On the opposition: Ukraine is a rejuvenated side that has the majority of the players who play in their own country in terms of club.’

On Mickael Landreau: The sheer amount of time Landreau has been at the highest level, he earns your respect.’ 

On Ribery‘Ribery had a great last season. He must be in the top 2 or 3 best players in the world. He has taken hold of the challenges with the French national team with both hands.’ 

On what could make the difference: ‘The important thing is not to think it will be easy. The amount of experience we have in the squad should make the difference.’


Paul Pogba:

On positional differences for France and Juventus: ‘I hope I can provide more offensively in these two matches. It is true that I play more offensively for Juventus. My duties have been more of a defensive manner for France previously. I do not have a preference. Either way I am happy to play for France.

On that goal vs Napoli: ‘I messed up my first touch…but it was one of the most beautiful goals I have scored so far.’ 

On the future: ‘It is true that playing regular Champions League football at the age of 20 has given me a lot of experience. I do ask anyone I can for advice, even the young guys in this squad like Raphael Varane. If I do not start in these two games I will not be upset. We all have one goal, to be in Brazil next June.’


Laurent Koscielny:

On squad confidence: ‘We are all taking these next games in our stride. We are all confident in our own abilities.’ 

On his defensive partners: Abidal has a lot of experience, Varane is a very promising youngster. I adapt accordingly to my defensive partner. I know Abi better, but Varane and I have similar qualities. I do not have a preference. The manager will make his decision.’ 

On Arsenal’s loss to Manchester United: ‘We have not lost any confidence. We just had a poor first half against Manchester United.’ 

On the last time France were in the World Cup Qualifying Playoffs: ‘In 2009, I was watching it at home on the TV. That time we qualified. That is exactly what we want to do again now.’

On Loic Remy: ‘Remy is becoming a big Premier League player, constantly scoring goals. For France, he can play upfront or down either wing. He is fast and poses a constant threat for opponents.’ 

On defensive midfielders: ‘I like to have a defensive midfielder sitting in front of me. It is important for the full backs who go forward and also so that we do not caught on the counter attack.’

On Van Persie: ‘He seemed happy to score against his former team…’


Franck Ribery:

On the importance of this playoff: ‘There is no hiding from it. These two games are the most important for the French national team. It is important that we get a result in Ukraine, but we will need everyone behind us at the Stade de France too.’

On the opposition: ‘Tymochtchuk is a player who is always hungry. We cannot play meekly against the Ukraine. We will have to play well to get a result. They do leave spaces down the flanks and it is something we must exploit. They are an aggressive team who are solid defensively. I am not afraid of anything though.’

On the pressure: ‘I have always had this type of pressure on me to succeed. I will try to take off as much pressure as I can from the other players’ shoulders.’ 

On the Ballon D’Or: It is something that I dream about. But first and foremost I am here to play how I want and with joy.’

On Guardiola: ‘At the age of 30, I am an experienced player. The arrival of Guardiola has opened up my eyes though. He told me to always take my chances, to shoot more. Since he has arrived I have been scoring more.’




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