On Tuesday, he will start his fourth World Cup, his fourth as the Blues’ winner. Hugo Lloris made no startling revelations on the eve of his entry into the race. Asked about the One Love armband, which he still refuses to wear, preferring to stick to the FIFA structure, he focused on the Australian challenge that awaits him in 24 hours. He wants to start the competition with more “momentum” than in 2018.
How do you feel about this first match?
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HUGO LLORIS. The first game is always important. There are even more expectations from the reigning champion. The team worked well despite the circumstances and injuries. We kept moving forward together as a team, we can’t wait.
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Do these problems take the pressure off you or are you more worried?
We continue to believe in our chances, in our group, in our adventure. We need to use this to keep growing as a team to support each other. Inevitably, the last minute packages didn’t help the team, much less Kareem in the last 24 hours. We know his importance in the team. But I want to believe that the team continues to move forward and create positive dynamics. The truth remains field, despite the short preparation. We will know more after the match against Australia.
What leverage are you going to push for the youth so that they are not paralyzed by what is at stake?
In the group, some are more experienced than others. We have a lot of young people, but we can rely on a structure to guide them. They have talent, they are not here by chance, they have the trust of the coach. Despite the dangers, there is positive energy. Now this should lead to a good performance.
Are you going to play the fifth World Cup?
We will focus on the fourth. I always represent my country with great pride and honor. We have pressure, as do all the teams involved. Let’s focus on the group stage. You must give yourself every chance to finish first. We attach great importance to the first game.
Article 3 of the FIFA Good Practice Guidelines states: “Any discrimination against a country, an individual or a group of people on the basis of ethnicity, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is expressly prohibited under threat of suspension or exclusion.” Why is it problematic to wear the One Love headband?
FIFA organizes competitions, determines the framework, rules. And we, the players, are asked to play football and represent our countries as best we can in sports. I prefer to stay within my limits, within the player and competitor. But in fact, there are various things worthy of praise that need to be supported. After that, as I said, FIFA decides on the organization.
“You must know how to suffer in order to cope”
Despite different packages, do you think you can win a second title in a row?
As I said, we are focused on this group stage, we will take the matches one by one. We want to experience an adventure like the adventure of 2018 and experience wonderful moments. But high-level football requires a lot of effort, you need to be able to suffer in order to cope with difficulties.
How has Mbappe changed since 2018?
He confirmed all the hopes placed on him for four years. For a player like Kylian, it’s hard to define boundaries. Its potential is incredible. I feel restless, focused, relaxed. He will strive to perform.
How do you feel about the third match against Tunisia? Many play in France.
We will focus on Australia before thinking about the third match against Tunisia. We understand that it will be special, with a fairly large community in France, most of which are friends. But here the focus is on the first game.
Do you think the team is as strong as it was in 2018?
In 2018, there was already a part of the unknown. It is built through stages, through matches. That’s the beauty of this sport. There is a part of the unknown, we must strive to succeed. All great nations certainly have the same will as ours.
Did you rewatch the 2018 match against Australia?
No, it’s different. The labor force developed on both sides. We can expect the same style of play. We don’t want to experience the same feeling as after this match. Even if there was a victory (2-1), the performance was insufficient. We want to start well with content and performance at a good level to give us momentum in this competition.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of this team?
They are a competitive team that can count on their qualification in penalties against Peru. In general, this unites the team and creates an unchanging mentality. It will be necessary to pay attention to standard positions and transitions to the attack. They quickly regroup. You will need to put rhythm, percussion, speed, to be in the minority, but at the same time be vigilant against counterattacks. We expect to have the ball and we will have to put it to good use.
How will Benzema’s departure destroy the band?
We know what Benzema can represent for the team and especially for the youth. Despite the disappointment and sadness, we needed to keep moving forward and prepare for this big time. Despite the youth of our team, these are mature players who dreamed of participating in the World Cup and want to succeed. There is a backbone of experienced players who at some point will have to guide them and, in particular, find the right words before the start of the match. They play in the biggest European clubs and I take it easy.