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Riberiao Press Conference 6: Debuchy and Valbuena

As the World Cup moves into the final round of Group Stage matches, Mathieu Valbuena and Mathieu Debuchy were the latest in a succession France players to address the media and discuss their country’s progress in the tournament so far.

With several changes in personnel expected ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Ecuador, both players insisted that they would still love to play a part in the game despite the boost that some extra rest could provide in the latter stages of the competition.

Team spokesman Philippe Tournon was also on hand to provide a quick update on the fitness of defender Raphael Varane.


Mathieu Debuchy:

On the break before the next game: ‘We wanted to go into this rest period still feeling good so that we can properly prepare ourselves for the next challenge.’

‘Ten days without playing [if I don’t play against Ecuador] isn’t a problem as we play friendly matches the day after games.’

On the players’ families visiting: ‘It will do us good to have a little break with our partners. My kids won’t be here but it’s still going to be nice.’

‘We get to spend one evening and the following morning with our families so there’s no problem with us becoming unsettled.’

On Valbuena: ‘It’s been going very well between Valbuena and myself, he knows how I work.’

‘Valbuena is impressive, he does extraordinary things and often decides games.’

On Mavuba: ‘Mavuba’s a great guy. He’s important for the group, he talks a lot and brings everyone together.’

On the Ecuador match: ‘I want to play against Ecuador but it could be a good chance to get others involved. It’s up to the coach to decide.’

‘The guys that haven’t played so far want to play in this game, we’re all very competitive.’

‘Ecuador are a quick, skilful side. They have lots of good players who are comfortable on the ball.’

‘South American sides are very comfortable at home so we need to be wary of this side.’

On the Maracana stadium: ‘The Maracana is a mythical place, it doesn’t get any better than playing there in a World Cup.’

On looking ahead at potential opponents: ‘We briefly discussed Argentina’s group, they’re a top side but there aren’t any easy games here.’

‘From the Round of 16 onwards it’s a completely different competition.’

On playing in this France side: ‘It’s great to play in this side, we’ve taken a huge step forward.’

‘The thing I love is our attacking play, it’s great to be a part of it.’

On Deschamps: ‘Deschamps is the ideal coach. We communicate with him a lot and that’s important.’

‘He hasn’t spoken to us about the team that will play against Ecuador yet.’

‘We all know what Deschamps was like as a player and he hasn’t lost that, it’s part of his character.’

On conceding goals: ‘We haven’t spoken about the two goals we conceded [against Switzerland] but there was perhaps a lack of concentration or some tiredness… It was very warm. It’s always annoying to concede and we need to put it right. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.’

On his haircut: ‘I know people mention it quite a bit and I really like it.’

On the supporters: ‘We’re in contact with the fans here quite often, it’s nice to take photos with them.’

On his role: ‘I don’t count myself as a starter in this side, I take it one match at a time.’


Mathieu Valbuena:

On his role: ‘I try to play in my team-mates, I’ve been in the side for a good while now.’

‘I have lots of freedom and can drift into the centre. We use lots of movement and pace and it’s working very well at the moment.’

On his form and fitness: ‘There’s nothing new about people questioning my role in the side, it’s always been like that in my career. These days it happens less but I know it can easily come unstuck.’

‘Getting injured in December was perhaps a blessing in disguise as I managed to get back to fitness back in time and had a break.’

‘I wasn’t playing worse at the end of the season with Marseille like some people have said.’

‘I’m not using this World Cup to find a club. My future remains uncertain but we’ll deal with that later.’

On his route to the top: ‘I had to prove myself more than others as I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. My height also counted against me at times.’

‘When I don’t play well it’s always pointed out very quickly. I’ve never had it easy but I know that and it’s made me stronger.’

On being with the France squad: ‘I’ve never been so happy in all of my career. It was tough going through what happened in 2010 and 2012 but that’s in the past now. I’m really enjoying being part of this World Cup.’

On the France side: ‘Antoine [Griezmann] brings passing quality and intelligence to our play while Olivier [Giroud] offers a great target to aim for as well as his aerial presence.’

‘In this system we have a great balance to the team, the attackers are our first line of defence.’

‘In this group everyone is working hard and staying ready, that’s important.’

‘We all represent an important piece of this France team and we’re proud to be a part of it.’

‘We’ll see how good we are when things get tough, we’ll see if we’re the real deal.’

‘Winning breeds confidence and that is absolutely vital for attackers.’

On their chances of winning the competition: ‘Favourites? I don’t know about that. Six months ago nobody was enthusiastic about our chances.’

‘We’re in our own little bubble but there’s still a long way to go.’

On his deliveries in the Switzerland match: ‘Before the match, Olivier asked me to put the ball right to where he scored from.’

On the Brazuca ball: ‘It’s a good ball, not like in 2010.’

On the Maracana: ‘The Maracana is legendary. Some great players have played there and we’re going to enjoy it.’

‘The quality of the pitches here is a definite advantage for us.’

On his performances: ‘I always try my very best but it’s you [the media] that decides if it’s good enough.’

On the Ecuador game: ‘We’re not quite through yet. I always want to play but the coach will decide.’

‘Ecuador are a hard-working side and will be playing for their place in the next round. That said, we’re our own number one enemy.’

‘We want to finish top of the group. It would be nice to avoid Argentina.’

‘We all want to play in this match, myself more than anyone. There’s a lot riding on this game.’

On Deschamps: ‘It was complicated with Deschamps at first as I didn’t seem to be in his thoughts… I managed to change that with hard work though.’

‘He was very happy [after the Switzerland win] but wants us to stay grounded.’

‘Deschamps knows how to organise a group and get everyone involved. He gets the best out of every player.’

‘He asks us to get stuck into our opponents and be very aggressive.’

On the Brazilian’s football-volleyball training routine: ‘I know the football-volleyball thing quite well as we had a few Brazilians at Marseille but I don’t play it.’

On his Portuguese skills: ‘I know a few words in Portuguese but I won’t repeat them here…’

On Mavuba: ‘I’ve known Rio since we were kids. He had a great rise to the top but we lost touch for about three years. He’s an endearing guy.’

On Matuidi: ‘He’s like an animal on the pitch: he wins the ball back, hassles the opposition and plays well consistently, we’re lucky to have him. He was in the same situation as me at the Euros [in 2012], it’s nice for us both to be here.’

On seeing their families: ‘I already saw my family before the Switzerland game and it gave me a lot of strength.’


Philippe Tournon – France team spokesman:

On Varane: ‘Varane had a touch of gastroenteritis, he’s at the hotel and he’ll train this afternoon.’


[PHOTO: Getty Images]


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