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Riberiao Prieto Press Conference 1: World Cup Preparation

Having flown out to Brazil shortly after their thumping 8-0 win over Jamaica on Sunday, the most recent addition to France’s series of pre-World Cup press conferences came directly from the side’s training camp in Ribeirao Preto.

Accompanied by Paul Pogba, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny, Didier Deschamps led an upbeat session during which discussions touched upon everything from the great sense of togetherness within the camp to the various methods employed to pass the time on their long journey across the Atlantic.


Didier Deschamps:

On their arrival in Brazil: ‘The Brazilian people are really behind us. So many of them are coming to our training sessions and we want to really connect with the people here.’

‘We have a great setup here in Ribeirao Preto, it works very well.’

On losing Ribery: ‘The Brazilian media can think that this France team is all about Ribery if they want to. In Ribery, we lost a truly world class player who has already played in World Cups.’

On the positives from the Jamaica game: ‘On Sunday there was some great link-up play and the understanding between Giroud and Benzema was excellent. Benzema wasn’t just out on the left, he was on the left, on the right and through the middle.

‘Giroud and Benzema were playing as intelligently as midfielders and their partnership can work even against bigger teams. If we have less of the ball, however, that means that the three attackers have to work a lot harder.’

‘I try to take lessons from each match we play, I have to think things over on a daily basis.’

On the role of his strikers: ‘It’s not the first time that I’ve given freedom to the strikers. When we have the ball it’s not a problem but we have to make sure that we share the workload among the attackers when we don’t have the ball.’

On his side’s team celebrations: ‘I’m not controlling the players, I don’t have a joystick. If they all want to congratulate the scorer then great, it’s spontaneous.’

On Honduras: ‘They’re a very physical side but I’m not overly worried about that. If they cross the line then the referee will take action.’

‘They’re well organised in their 4-4-2 and defend well. The attackers are very athletic while the team sits deep.’

On Sissoko: ‘It’s not like I just discovered him. On Sunday he was playing in his preferred role and I know what he can bring to the team.’

On the condition of the squad: ‘Only Debuchy isn’t training. It’s nothing serious though, just a precaution, there are no worries about him.’

‘We’re not quite there yet but we still have five days.’

‘We need to prepare for the late kickoffs, hopefully you won’t make too much out of it.’

On the starting XI: ‘They’re all here to earn their place in the lineup. Giroud has been doing really well since the start of our preparations.’

‘The high level here makes it like physical combat. Giroud is used to that from playing in the Premier League and playing against Ukraine.’

 ‘Yes, I have a team in mind at the moment, I know how we’re going to play.’

On the mood within the camp: ‘The players are happy and proud to be here.’

On the players’ social media usage: ‘The players are allowed to tweet during the competition but I’ve advised them about the content.’

On his own feelings: ‘I’m happy and proud to be here. There’s nothing better than a World Cup and being here in Brazil brings a smile to my face because of what it represents. It’s a privilege to be here.’


Paul Pogba:

On arriving in Brazil: ‘We’re taking time to settle in and feel calm. There’s a sense of excitement around us and that’s great.’

‘It’s a great feeling to hear that the Brazilian people admire me.’

‘I’m not a star. I’m a football lover and I’ve given my life to the game.’

On the feeling within the camp: ‘We’re a very close group. You can see that in the photos I post.’

‘The French people can forget what’s happened in the past, we want to make our fans happy.’

On coming up against club-mate Stephan Lichtsteiner: ‘I admire him a great deal, we have to pay close attention to him.’

On his role: ‘The coach wants me to be as effective as possible and I have to work hard defensively. I don’t have the same freedom as at club level.’

‘I’m going to have to be selective about my forward runs during the World Cup.’

‘I want to raise my game. I know myself and while people think that I can seem nonchalant, that’s just my style of play.’

‘Blaise [Matuidi] and Yohan [Cabaye] can both play high up. I need to adapt my play and make sure I don’t stray too far forward.’

On competition for his place: ‘Moussa [Sissoko] had a great game against Jamaica. I don’t regard myself as a guaranteed starter.’

On the injuries: ‘The loss of Grenier and Ribery was a shock. We’re going to try to go all the way for them.’

On Honduras: ‘Honduras are a physical, aggressive team and we need to be ready for that.’

On being at the World Cup: ‘I’m starting to fulfil my dreams. It’s great to be playing in a World Cup and winning it would be even better.’

‘I’m not afraid, I’m enjoying every minute of it.’

‘You can’t compare an U-20 World Cup to being here with the first team.’


Olivier Giroud:

On his partnership with Benzema: ‘We shouldn’t focus on my partnership with Karim, above all we have to give our midfielders options.’

‘It wasn’t totally perfect. We shouldn’t just count the number of passes between us, you have to assess the movement. When we lose the ball, we both need to reposition ourselves. We’re both used to playing through the middle so we need to focus on dropping out wide.’

‘We need to move in relation to one-another and to communicate well. I like playing on the left and right.’

On his role: ‘Yes, I would be disappointed not to start on Sunday but I won’t be losing sleep over it. The coach makes the decisions.’

‘Since day one of our preparations I’ve had a good understanding with whoever I’m partnered with and that shows on the pitch.’

‘At the moment I’m loving it on the pitch.’

On the long journey to their base: ‘We played a bit of Perudo during the layover.’

On his present and future: ‘There’s nothing better than the Premier League but why wouldn’t I want to play in Brazil one day?’

On the team’s supporters: ‘We had great support in Lille and Nice and we’re used to this excitement. The Brazilians really like France too.’

On Deschamps: ‘We have a lot of respect for Deschamps, he’s easy to get along with and speaks with his players a lot. I can be myself with him.’

On Brazil: ‘I’m certainly not against going for a little tour of the town but it’s not me who decides.’

On the physical side of game: ‘I like contact and physical duels. It’s definitely a plus for me to play against English defences.’


Laurent Koscielny:

On arriving in Brazil: ‘We’ve had a great welcome, the Brazilian people showed that they’re happy to have us here.’

‘The journey was extremely long so we’re well-rested.’

On the feeling among the side’s four young centre-backs: ‘There’s a great spirit between the four of us. We’re all really motivated.’

‘Mamadou [Sakho] plays for Liverpool, Raphael [Varane] at Real Madrid and Eliaquim [Mangala] at Porto so age certainly isn’t a problem.’

‘We’ve had plenty of injuries at the back so each pairing has had a job to do.’

On Giroud: ‘Giroud loves a physical test, he’s ready for the Honduras game.’

‘Olivier is full of confidence, he’s a complete player. The team is playing better now, finding him with the ball and understanding his runs.’

On the squad: ‘The coach puts a team together but it is the group as a whole that makes this France side.’

‘As a substitute, you’re there to make everything go as well as possible for the starters.’

‘Our key strength is our solidarity, we all work together.’

On his role: ‘I know I have to focus in the matches.’

On his favourites for the World Cup: ‘Spain, Argentina, Brazil and Germany for me.’

On the Brazilian journalists’ difficulties with his name: ‘Call me Kos, it’s easier.’


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