Clairefontaine Press Conference 2: World Cup Preparation 2014

Following Les Bleus’ emphatic 4-0 win over Norway on Tuesday night, Didier Deschamps, Antoine Griezmann, Mathieu Debuchy and Mathieu Valbuena all took some time to speak to the press from their World Cup training camp in Clairefontaine.

Topics covered include the victory over Norway, bidding farewell to the squad’s reserve players and individual thoughts on the side’s progress so far.

Didier Deschamps:

On the Norway Match: ‘You can always pick a few negative points. We occasionally gave up possession and that meant we had to run after the ball. Today, the players aren’t in peak physical condition.’

‘The players did what was necessary to stir up some passion and love from the French public. That’s important.’

On the side’s positive progress: ‘The match provides no guarantees for 15th June but it’s better to have this positive feeling. Everything is going well. We have to remain level-headed though. When it’s going well, you can’t get carried away and then when things are going wrong, it’s never usually as bad as you think.’

On his side’s attacking system: ‘I haven’t been worried about the team’s balance in the last three games. Clearly, we’re geared towards attack and I’m not going to change that.’

On the reserve players leaving the squad: ‘The reserve players have left now. Even though it was planned in advance, it’s still the toughest part of the process. Their attitude was flawless. They have to be available for you and they were.’

On Benzema’s performance in the Champions League final: ‘Benzema didn’t play as well as he can but wasn’t bad either. I’m certainly not overly concerned.’

On Griezmann: ‘Griezmann offers something different to Ribery, Valbuena or Remy. He’s more of a wide player’

On François Hollande’s visit: ‘I don’t have any advice to give to François Hollande. We’re looking forward to welcoming him here.’

On Ribery: ‘Ribery wasn’t at 100% in the German cup final. I’ve already played a World Cup at less than 100%. He’s the only player not to have trained this morning.’

On Pogba: ‘Pogba needs to remove certain superfluous aspects of his game. No one gains from them – not him or the team. I told him what he did well and what I didn’t like. He can’t take the easy route now, he needs to work hard.’

On Valbuena: ‘Valbuena didn’t make a breakthrough last night. It’s not a player’s current form that interests me, it’s their potential.’

On Cabaye: ‘Cabaye isn’t at 100%. He’s best as a holding player. He gets forward less in that role but it’s a vital position.’

On the ideal team: ‘I know how it is going to go. There’s certainly competition in there but yesterday was just a match situation. I already have an idea of who I want to play and last night’s match won’t change my opinion.’

‘I have an ideal First XI in mind – a solid core to start matches – but I don’t want subs that are happy to sit on the bench. Everyone has to feel important. It’s tough for the players that aren’t playing but the World Cup is a collective goal.’


Antoine Griezmann:

On his performance against Norway: ‘It’s easy to play with players of this calibre, they gave me confidence. The coach gives me lots of freedom too: Olivier [Giroud] wanted me to play in support of him and that’s what I did. I could have perhaps even got a goal.’

On the World Cup: ‘I’m not thinking about my role, that’s for the coach to decide. I’m 23 years old and in the squad for a World Cup, if I’m given playing time then I’ll give everything for the team. We can feel the supporters behind us and that’s a great thing.’

‘For me, the [2011 U-20] World Cup in Colombia brings back so many good memories full of emotion.’

On his own game: ‘I think developing my skills in Spain has given me a little extra technical ability.’

On the reserve players’ departure: ‘The reserve players told us to win the cup for them.’


Mathieu Debuchy:

On France’s current form: ‘Something has changed since playing Ukraine. We’re feeling good and the last week has been great.’

On Stephane Ruffier: ‘I know his strengths well. He’s a good player and he had a great game. He inspired confidence with the way he claimed aerial balls.’

On his role in the side: ‘Starter or sub? I don’t know. I’m giving my all. Yesterday went well even though I’m still not at 100%.’

‘I feel good with Mathieu [Valbuena] beside me. He can drift inside and free me up on the wings and that makes things easier for me.’

On the team’s style: ‘Our style of play is well established but it doesn’t always show. We still have to perfect a few things.’

On the reserve players leaving: ‘It was fairly emotional. They were well integrated with the rest of us and it was hard to see them go.’

On their reception in France and further afield: ‘Since Ukraine, we’re taken much more seriously in England. Our image has changed – Ukraine changed things a lot. The crowd was behind us from start to finish last night. We’ve put together a run of good performances now and people will be expecting a lot more from us.’

On his future: ‘At the moment, I’m 100% focused on the World Cup. My agents are working on my future.’

On singing the national anthem: ‘We didn’t receive any instructions regarding the Marseillaise. I didn’t even realise that everyone was singing but it’s certainly a good thing.’


Mathieu Valbuena:

On his performance against Norway: ‘I thought my performance was top notch yesterday – I made four goals. I worked hard to do my job on the pitch and, while it’s maybe not always apparent, that’s what made my performance.’

On his position in the lineup: ‘We’ve been playing 4-3-3 but the coach gives me the freedom to play through the middle and between the lines.’

On his season at Marseille: ‘I’m the pivot in this France side and I wish I could have produced the same performances for Marseille this season. I’m the first person to regret the poor season we’ve had and it has been a difficult year from a personal and a collective point of view.

‘I don’t feel under pressure at Marseille. My form was pretty consistent but my performances also depend on the collective effort put in.’

On Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival as coach: ‘I know Bielsa by name only. He’s bringing in an ambitious project. It’s been 8 years that I’ve been at Marseille now…’

‘People say I’m not trusted by Bielsa but that’s not true. He has his project but I haven’t discussed it with him yet.’

On the reserve players leaving: ‘It’s not easy to be a reserve player but they dealt with it well. Seeing them off left a bitter taste. [Hugo] Lloris spoke to them all and complimented their excellent attitude.’

On France’s progress so far: ‘We need to remain true to ourselves and keep up the passion we showed against Ukraine. We can still feel that energy.’


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