Thierry Henry & Lilian Thuram: “Always strange to play against a friend.”

In a semi-final which will pitch two friends Kylian Mbappé and Achraf Hakimi against each other on the pitch, L’Équipe spoke to Lilian Thuram and Thierry Henry about their experiences facing against their friends on the football pitch.

Thuram said that it was always “a strange sensation” to play against a friend on the opposing team, and said that whilst playing against Thierry Henry he thought he could anticipate the Arsenal man’s speed, yet still couldn’t deal with it. “Knowing your opponent’s great strength doesn’t prevent you from being deceived” said the former France defender, “Although Thierry’s style suited me better, he ran around a lot, but with him you felt you were always involved in the game”.

Henry then spoke about the time he faced Thuram, saying that “When you know the defender well, it’s difficult to go 100% into a duel with them and assert yourself” but that he liked to talk with players during the game, but not Thuram, who was “very serious and quite focused” when they played. In terms of a one on one confrontation with Thuram, Henry said that “Lilian knows everything about me, my calls, my dribbling” but that “if you make him move by roaming everywhere, at some point he won’t follow because he is human”. 

We should thus expect a similar contest between the two close Paris Saint Germain teammates Achraf Hakimi and Kylian Mbappé that will be in direct confrontation with each other during the match. The Atlas Lions and Les Bleus battle it out this evening to decide who will join Argentina in the 2022 World Cup final. 

GFFN | George Boxall

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