Clairefontaine Press Conference 4: World Cup Preparation

Following a two-day break from preparations, the France squad were back in training today and the newest in a series of pre-World Cup press conferences saw Didier Deschamps accompanied by three players who look set to provide back-up to the first XI at this summer’s World Cup: Mickael Landreau, Eliaquim Mangala and Clement Grenier.

While the players’ comments provided some fascinating insights into life inside the squad, proceedings were once again dominated by discussions of Franck Ribery’s fitness as journalists everywhere remain desperate to keep up to date with his progress.


Didier Deschamps:

On Ribery: ‘For Ribery, our goal remains to get him ready for Sunday’s match. We all know what his presence means for the group in footballing terms, you certainly talk about it often enough.’

‘Ribery would prefer things to be different, he knows that and the group does too. But that’s not stopping him from working.’

‘He needs to be training with the rest of the squad, then we’ll see if he can play on Sunday. I’ll speak with Ribery, the most important thing is how the player is feeling.’

‘In terms of fitness, there’s an element of pain still there as well an element of physical trouble. The best person to comment on whether or not the pain is manageable is the player himself, Ribery. He’s always one to grit his teeth though, against the Ukraine he played half a match with a fractured rib.’

‘Will Ribery be on the plane to Brazil? Today I have no reason to say he won’t be.’

On injuries within the squad: ‘Ribery won’t train today, nor will Pogba or Varane. Pogba has been used a lot recently, that’s why he’s not training today, and Varane should be back in group training tomorrow.’

On Benzema’s injury: ‘Benzema no longer has any pain in his adductor muscles. If he did, he wouldn’t be training today.’

On the reserve players: ‘I told the reserve players what I was expecting from them before they left.’

On Grenier: ‘Grenier can player on the left or right of midfield as well as supporting the striker. He’s not at 100% but he can get there.’

On Sunday’s opponents Jamaica: ‘Jamaica will be a different kind of opponent. It wasn’t easy for Switzerland when they played them.’

On the players’ two-day break: ‘I think the two-day break was important. It’s allowed them a bit of time to clear their minds.’


Mickael Landreau:

On Ribery: ‘Ribery is important for the group as well as on the pitch. He’s the one having to manage the situation, we have to adapt to it.’

‘We all know you love situations like the one involving Ribery. We’ve seen it all before at major tournaments.’

‘We won’t play differently with or without Franck. We’re organised with a specific style of play, but his presence would be a definite plus.’

‘Ribery brings a lot of fun. He’s always joking and can set the mood. We’ve all had some great times together.’

On Griezmann: ‘We all have an important role to play no matter what. Griezmann is here because his performances deserve it and his goal will have done him good.’

On the goalkeeping situation: ‘The third-choice goalkeeper is the one that has to adapt the most. In terms of the line-up and in terms of the two men ahead of him.’

On his own involvement: ‘I think I offer a good alternative, with my experience you get the guarantee of a high level of performance.’

‘I feel very happy in my role and I’m very content with the way things are going with the squad.’

‘I’m enjoying being involved with everything. I really want to be a part of the adventure and feel good within the group and within myself.’

On the team’s performances: ‘The way we played against Norway and Paraguay was a good step forward but there are still things to sort out, especially in terms of fitness…’

‘Every tiny detail is important, we’re analysing everything we can. But having no problems is simply not possible. That’s our job, we have to deal with everything that is thrown our way.’

On heading to Brazil: ‘I feel like we’ll be warmly welcomed in Brazil. I think the people there will be excited to see the French side arrive.’

On the FIFA rankings: ‘The FIFA rankings aren’t important but if we’re in 16th place then there’s a reason for that. We’ve been less consistent than other sides.’


Eliaquim Mangala:

On his role in the squad: ‘I’m a part of the squad. The coach picks his team and I just try to be ready.’

‘I don’t think I earned my place in the squad in the Holland match [back in March]. But I started that match and certainly did my chances no harm.’

On Jamaica: ‘The Jamaica match is going to be a good warm-up. For them, coming up against France is a big game.’

On his club side Porto: ‘The Portuguese league maybe isn’t very well-known but I’m playing for a club that is in the Champions League every year.’

On France’s World Cup ambitions: ‘In a competition like the World Cup you have to be realistic first and foremost.

On the team’s centre-backs: ‘The other three centre-backs all have their own style of play and all have their own faults. I’m not here to make any comparisons.’

On Pogba: ‘Everyone knows that Pogba has a huge future ahead of him. That said, what he’s achieved already by his age certainly isn’t bad.’

On Ribery: ‘We still have time to get used to playing without Ribery. The Honduras match isn’t tomorrow after all.’


Clement Grenier:

On his position in the squad and his fitness: ‘I haven’t tried to calculate my playing time, I’m here to work hard and show what I’m capable of. I feel that this system fits me well and I don’t really have a preferred position.’

‘I feel at 100% now. It was difficult to get back up to speed but I worked hard and feel that I’ve completely healed.’

On Griezmann: ‘Griezmann has just had a great season and has been playing at a very high level but replacing Franck is very tricky. We’re here to learn.’

On his freekick against Paraguay: ‘That was an occasion that I didn’t take a good freekick. I tried to follow the example of Juninho when I was little and have worked hard at it.’

On the squad’s two-day break: ‘During the two days it was hard to think of anything other than the World Cup, but we rested all the same.’


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