L’Équipe report in today’s issue that the team spirit within the France camp at this World Cup is vastly improved in comparison with the Euros in the summer of 2021, which saw internal quarrels and Covid-19 restrictions mark their early exit to Switzerland.
This time, the team noticeably spend more time with each other – after dinner, virtually no player stays in their room and the squad gathers in the games room of their base camp.
Several players, like Adrien Rabiot, have commented on this new-found unity helping Les Bleus through some of their more difficult moments at the tournament so far, for example in the opening exchanges of the last 16 win over Poland on Sunday night. When Olivier Giroud scored his record-breaking opener, all eleven players huddled together before Raphaël Varane gave a speech in the dressing room at half-time.
Part of the reason for this is the change in squad dynamics and breakdown in hierarchy caused by the arrival of new, younger players. There is a mutual respect between the new arrivals and the veterans, with the former admiring the professionalism and availability, while the latter have even been accepting advice – notably Antoine Griezmann on midfield positioning, from Youssouf Fofana. After booking their spot in the last eight Les Bleus celebrated Olivier Giroud and Hugo Lloris’ records – the goalkeeper is now France’s joint all-time top appearance-maker, on 142 – before going their separate ways today for some free time.
GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin