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Riberiao Preto Press Conference 4: Game 2 Preperation

As preparations continue ahead of Les Bleus’ second Group E match against Switzerland on Friday, the latest in a series of press conferences from Ribeirao Preto provided the gathered media with a rare treat as Rio Mavuba was accompanied by the elusive Patrice Evra.

Speaking in his first national team conference since November 2012, ‘Pat’ certainly didn’t disappoint as he reeled off a succession of comical quips touching upon everything from his love-hate relationship with the media to the infamous 2010 World Cup mole.


Rio Mavuba:

On his role in the squad: ‘I’m very competitive and I want to play as much as possible. There’s definitely a first XI that’s been set up but I’m right there behind them.’

On the feeling within the squad: ‘While there have been no problems so far, you never know what can happen. Saying that, there are no divides in the group and we’re doing very well.’

‘There’s a sense of confidence within the group. We’re being realistic but we’re not afraid of anybody.’

‘We haven’t played against the biggest nations yet apart from when we played Holland a while back. We know that we’re defensively strong though.’

On the feeling among the subs: ‘We’re concerned, of course, and there’s some disappointment when you’re not playing but our aims are collective. Eleven players alone isn’t enough.’

On Valbuena: ‘I know Mathieu Valbuena well, he likes the pressure of big matches and wants to be the best player here.’

‘He’s the fulcrum of our attacking play on the pitch and a live wire off it… An important player.’

On Mickael Landreau: ‘It’s going very well with Landreau. Even though he left Lille we still talk a lot and get along well.’

On how the players spend their free time: ‘What do we like to do? Video games, perudo, DVDs, naps, books… The goalkeepers like to play a bit of petanque.’

On Stephan Lichtsteiner: ‘Lichtsteiner was great at Lille. He has a lot to give to the game and is very strong technically.’

On the World Cup so far: ‘We watch the games in the afternoon and in the evening. So far, Germany, Holland and Italy have impressed.’

On Griezmann: ‘Griezmann has settled into the group really well and has grown in confidence. He brings some real technical quality and has a good left foot.’

On Switzerland: ‘Switzerland are the most important team in the group, it’s going to be a real test.’

‘I have a video montage of all the Switzerland midfielders on my tablet, I prefer defending against big players as they’re a little less lively.’

On Patrice Evra: ‘Evra is quite simple really: he gives advice and is always positive for the group. He’s a leader and is very important for us.’

‘He was very cool and calm in the car on the way over, there’s something of a gap between the image he puts out and the one we see.’

On Deschamps: ‘When Deschamps talks to me about my position, he certainly knows what he’s talking about!’

On Matuidi: ‘Matuidi is an important cog in the side. He’s a calm, understated guy but it’s better to do your talking on the pitch.’

On Pogba: ‘Pogba knows that he’s a target, that people are watching him. It’s down to him to be smart and to make sure that he doesn’t repeat what he did on Sunday.’

On the centre-back pairing: ‘Varane and Sakho play for top European clubs and we’ve seen how they can play against Ukraine.’

On the strikers: ‘The strikers play with a lot of freedom and we have to defend with seven or eight players. The attackers are all full of confidence and that’s how we’ve progressed.’

‘Giroud has moved on now. He didn’t hide his disappointment but we spoke about it and it’s forgotten.’


Patrice Evra:

On being in Brazil at the World Cup: ‘Since being here I’ve felt like a little kid again. I’m so happy to be here with you.’

‘Now, I’ve put a line through 2010. We sense that the France team are well liked here in Brazil and for that I say ‘Obrigado’.’

‘The French people were afraid of getting behind this team but that’s over now. Everyone is behind us.’

On the public perception of him: ‘My bad image doesn’t come from the fans but from the media. Our supporters are always positive with me.’

‘This whole ‘bad boy’ image doesn’t affect me. I don’t read those articles or look at them online.’

‘It would be nice if people didn’t talk about me. I’m my club’s captain and I’m not going to change how I am.’

‘I make a living for a lot of people. In front of the cameras I’m just Pat. My outspokenness is going to hit all the headlines.’

‘A few of you are waiting for me to launch out grenades but I’m afraid it’s not going to happen.’ [laughs]

On the 2010 World Cup: ‘For people that suffered back in 2010, we can turn the page with a good result here. We need to respect the shirt.’

‘After my five match suspension I tried to stay out of the spotlight but it didn’t work and my natural demeanour soon came back.’

‘Back then I gave everything I had but it sapped all my energy. Today, I balance it much better. I’m doing the same things now but in 2010 it hit me harder because I took my role too seriously.’

‘Before the holidays in 2010 I said: ‘don’t worry guys, I’ll take the blame for everyone.’’

‘Even when things were going badly with the media, I never felt like I didn’t have a place within the group.’

‘You get the guillotines out for even the slightest mistake. I’m not daft.’ [laughs]

‘Things went very well with Toulalan in 2010. If we can eat together then there’s no problem.’

On Giroud: ‘I said to Olivier that in a World Cup you need everyone, there’s no ego problem there.’

On Pogba: ‘I told that blockhead [Pogba] that if he’d been sent off we would’ve all given him a good slap.’

On the team spirit: ‘This group is a frightening prospect because everything is going so well. At the dinner table, the guys say to me: ‘can you imagine if we were all playing for the same club.’’

‘Our number one enemy is the France team itself. We can’t go around thinking we’re stars, if we do that we’ll lose.’

‘We need to be careful. I have full confidence in the 23 players in the group but it’s still a fragile situation.’

‘I don’t like it when people say I’m a leader. Before the matches I say to them: ‘guys, there are 23 leaders.’’

‘We’ll soon find out how we react in tough situations. I’m cautiously confident about this France side.’

‘When I play the ball I don’t necessarily expect it to be given back to me.’

On himself: ‘I always love myself and I’m not going to start criticising myself. The Pat of 2010 and the Pat of 2014, I love them both.’

‘I don’t know why I’m not captain… In any case it’s Hugo [Lloris]. I was the captain in 2010 and that’s enough for me.’

‘It’s great to be captain but it’s not a priority.’

On missing press conferences: ‘Why don’t I come more often? After the [2010] World Cup, I’d had enough.’

On Ribery leaving the squad: ‘Franck almost made me cry when he left the group, that crazy guy. I was lucky to be there, it’s nothing like 2010.’

On his club future: ‘Manchester United decided to renew my contract, that’s all I can say.’

On Deschamps: ‘Nothing is clear with Deschamps. He doesn’t do you any favours, he says: ‘if you screw up Pat, I won’t miss it.’’

‘From Nice I decided to play for Monaco because it meant I could hook up with Deschamps right away. He’s a straight-forward, humble guy.’

‘He’s won trophies that don’t even exist but still remains humble.’

On the infamous 2010 mole: ‘The mole? I can laugh about it now. We were in our own little bubble and I’ve still never found that mole!’ [laughs wildly]

On the centre-backs: ‘We have four great centre-backs. They don’t have too much experience but we communicate a lot.’


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