Riberiao Preto Press Conference 3: Game 2 Preparation

Following France’s assured 3-0 victory over Honduras in their opening Group E encounter on Sunday, Didier Deschamps, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann met the media to give their thoughts on a draining yet extremely encouraging start to their country’s campaign.

While the three interviewees insisted that there is no danger of the squad getting carried away with their early success, morale within the camp understandably seemed higher than ever as attention now turns to the second group game against Switzerland on Friday.


Didier Deschamps:

On the injuries from the Honduras match: ‘There were plenty of knocks but nothing too serious apart from Cabaye who has a problem with his groin.’

‘It was our job to inform the players of the characteristics of this Honduras side. We tried not to get drawn into playing their [physical] game.’

On Griezmann: ‘When he was first selected he was a little shy but since our preparatory camp he’s been a lot more settled.’

‘Griezmann and the Ribery of 2006 are very different, Griezmann has his own qualities and a completely different style of play.’

‘He needs to keep playing his natural game and keep it simple. He needed to get through his first appearance and now his performances should be acknowledged.’

On the team’s performance: ‘The team built upon everything that they’ve done well so far. There were a few concerns about the feeling within the camp before this game.’

‘We didn’t make the best start as Honduras played with aggression right from the first whistle.’

‘Going forward there was a great unity among the players, the three strikers worked well together and used movement well.’

‘Nobody is getting carried away. After the match the players were satisfied but there were no wild celebrations.’

On Switzerland: ‘There are things to work upon. Switzerland have more substance and individual quality and their full-backs get more involved.’

‘The Swiss players all play for big clubs and are used to the high level of play. They have a very strong front four.’

On Pogba: ‘I’m not here to tell Pogba off but rather to help him. I need to help him control himself.’

‘He’s playing in a position where there are plenty of duels and the high level means that he needs to be in total control.’

‘With his long legs it’s easier to catch him and he took plenty of knocks.’

‘You’re talking about Pogba like he’s the star of the World Cup but we need to take it slowly. There’s a long way to go yet.’

On Benzema: ‘Karim is on a great run and is at the top of his game. He’s happy and it shows.’

‘He’s a top-level player and he needs to keep doing what comes naturally. He likes being a part of the action.’

‘The whole situation with Benzema has passed me by a little over the last two years, I’ve had other things to sort out.’

‘The key moment for him was coming back against Australia when the fans jeered him. At the Parc des Princes he was playing alongside the crowd and got rid of the false image he’d developed of being a player who is closed off.’

‘Against Ukraine he made his feelings known, he’s like that. When he’s not happy, he’s not happy.’

On Giroud: ‘I made a choice. He was very disappointed but he has to move on and think of the team as a whole.’

On the Brazilian fans in the crowd against Honduras: ‘Were they supporting Honduras? Maybe they’re afraid of us.’

On the players’ outside contact: ‘We’re in contact with people here, we’re not isolated.’

On the use of goal-line technology for France’s second goal: ‘The replay shown in the stadium wasn’t the correct one of the own goal. There are no arguments at all about the own goal [going in].’

On the centre-back pairing: ‘Varane and Sakho don’t offer the same qualities and that’s why they were paired together.’

On the excitement around the squad: ‘The excitement is linked to our results. The 19th November [against Ukraine] changed lots of things and now we need to keep this momentum going.’

On the side’s ongoing preparations: ‘The less I have to step in, the better it is for the team. Before the match things were already going very well.’

‘We chat with the players and always focus on football. We consider all 23 players to be important and make time for everyone.’

‘We listen to the players and everyone needs to feel important.’

‘In football there are two key positions: goalkeeper and centre-forward. When those two players are strong it’s a lot easier to win.’

‘There won’t be any lack of intensity this week, the players that didn’t play have to be ready. We definitely don’t want to lose anyone this week though.’

On Cabaye: ‘Cabaye has a strategic role protecting his defence. It’s the role that he likes best and he’s feeling good.’


Karim Benzema:

On his role in the side: ‘I’m here with the France squad to enjoy myself. I’ve shown that on the pitch but less so off it.’

‘I don’t have any aims in terms of numbers, the important thing is to enjoy it.’

‘The star of the show is the team, not me. Hard work pays off, you can’t ever slow down.’

‘I’m feeling good, I’m really feeling like a part of this side. The Ukraine match started something.’

‘Above all I’m thinking about the game, about playing good football.’

On his image: ‘I don’t know if my image has changed, I’m always the same. I don’t change, I develop. It’s going well with the fans at the moment.’

‘Different people see me from different angles. The memory of the Parc des Princes is a good one, the fans were all behind me.’

‘The World Cup could go on to change my image if I can play well on the pitch.’

On his spell on the bench: ‘I’m not sure if my time on the bench did me good but I was going through a bad spell and there was plenty of competition for places.’

‘There was a striker scoring at the time and I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t at my best.’

On the Brazilian fans’ support: ‘It’s great to be supported by the Brazilians, they’ve been good to us.’

On Griezmann: ‘He’s a young player and is full of hopes and ambitions.’

‘We all get along well with Griezmann, he likes to have a laugh.’

On Zidane: ‘I spoke to Zidane before the match. He wished me good luck and told me to take risks.’

On Honduras: ‘Their players were hardly beasts or killers, there were just plenty of clashes.’

On his love of the game: ‘If you want to talk football with me I’ll happily talk all day. After that, there’s not much left for me to say.’

‘I arrive early at training and leave last. I’m working hard in front of goal.’

On Deschamps: ‘Yes, I spoke to Didier plenty. He helped me a lot psychologically.’

On Algeria: ‘I hope they have a good match and that they qualify.’


Antoine Griezmann:

On his role within the side: ‘I was so so happy to find out I was starting.’

‘It’s easy to play in this team as there’s a good style of possession football and great technical ability.’

‘On the pitch it’s easy to be a part of the team. I like to have a laugh and I try to put a smile on everyone’s face.’

‘I’m not competing against Olivier Giroud. I’m available to the coach and we all want to help the group.’

‘Up front we have total freedom, a blank canvas. We simply have to cover our full-back when we’re defending.’

‘[After the match] I called my dad. He was happy with how I played and told me to keep working.’

On the national anthem: ‘We missed the Marseillaise and that was the only thing that annoyed me about the match.’

On his future: ‘I’m not thinking about my future, I’m here with Les Bleus.’

On Benzema: ‘Benzema is a leader on the pitch and a world class striker.’

‘We’re often together, we like to have a laugh. He gives me a lot of advice.’

‘He told me not to try too hard, to play like I do at my club and to work around his movement.’

On the victory over Honduras: ‘We’re not getting carried away. We’re staying calm but we’re happy to have picked up the three points.’

On the comparisons with Ribery: ‘There’s no comparison to make between me and the Ribery of 2006. I’m flattered but I’m Griezmann.’

On Valbuena: ‘It’s pretty easy with Mathieu Valbuena, we like to play one-twos and it’s easy to link up with him.’

On his heading game: ‘I’m good at heading thanks to a game that we used to play when I was younger.’

On his development: ‘Following my suspension with the France youth team, I decided to work hard to change my image.’


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