Captain Lloris, 118 caps in the Blues, returns to the tricolor cage after Steve Mandanda’s tenure against Finland. He takes stock before challenging the Portuguese this Saturday night in the League of Nations.
What do you expect from this match against Portugal?
HUGO LLORIS. It is a game at stake between the two favorites of the group. It will be very tight, it will be played on not much. It will be a decisive match, we will want to do well and bounce back after a loss against Finland. The objective is clear, to qualify for the semi-final. There will be great players, two great football nations, we hope to obtain the necessary result.
What do you think of this Portuguese team?
I have a lot of respect for this great nation with a very talented generation coming up. She has a lot of ambition. We feel a strong team, sure of itself with a mixture of experience and young talents who explode all over Europe. It’s the kind of game you want to play when you’re a football player.
What is the state of mind after the defeat against Finland?
There is a lot of disappointment, the team was touched. The good thing is that there is an important game that happens very soon after. We analyzed the match, it’s important to question ourselves after victories and defeats, individually and collectively. Losing to Finland is very unimportant. It’s up to us to bounce back.
How do you perceive the group mentally and physically?
It was a special week when we didn’t have a session with all the available players. We arrived in a disparate state of form, with small ailments, small wounds to be treated. Everyone is focused on the match this Saturday, it is an important deadline for the France team for the rest of the competition. As with other nations, there is fatigue but we adapt to the calendars and their requirements.
Do you find Raphaël Varane tired and a little inward?
Raph is a great champion with a lot of experience. The fact of evolving at Real for so many seasons offers him experience and legitimacy in his position. He’s a leader on our team and in high-stake games. There are times in a career when we are less well but I feel he is focused on helping us to win this match.
Paul Pogba delivered a disappointing performance against Finland. Can France be good without a great Paul Pogba?
He lacks rhythm compared to his club situation like Raphaël and Antoine (Griezmann). But we see him with a smile and positive. He is up to the challenge. The blue jersey is close to his heart. He has lived, experience and knows how to raise his level when necessary and especially when there is adversity as will be the case against Portugal.
Would it be a mistake to focus only on Cristiano Ronaldo?
The response will always be collective when we face a player like Cristiano Ronaldo. It is an example by its longevity, its statistics, its records. He is one of the greatest. But Portugal is not only Cristiano Ronaldo, it is a collective for which we have a lot of respect and admiration. When we face Portugal, we have to be at our best to get a result.
Is the closed-door context even more difficult for a guard?
We have been going behind closed doors for a while. We try to take this positively, to adapt. We try to give voice, to stay active and focused, to help the partners from behind by communicating. Everyone has their stuff. It reminds me of the matches I played in a youth match with OGC Nice. There were few spectators but it was already very competitive matches.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr