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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Didier Deschamps: "This Juventus is like mine who won the Champions League."

Didier Deschamps in 2018.
Image credit: Кирилл Венедиктов.
Synopsis:

The 2018 World Cup winning manager, Didier Deschamps, gives a detailed interview to Alessandro Grandesso (@agrandesso) of La Gazzetta dello Sport from Paris, France. Mister Deschamps is one of only three men who have won the World Cup as a player and manager.

Contents:

1. On how his success in 1998 helped him in 2018.
2. On if France of 1998 was better than the 2018 version.
3. On what is the ingredient to win.
4. On one of the symbols of the young French team, Kylian Mbappé, who scores more than Leo Messi at his age.
5. On if Kylian Mbappé belongs in the same category as Leo Messi.
6. On If Luka Modric remains the favorite for the Ballon d'Or and if it would upset him if one of his French players didn't win.
7. On if Paul Pogba could win the Ballon d'Or despite his difficulties with Manchester United.
8. On if Juventus fans dream about Paul Pogba's return to Turin.
9. On if today's Juventus is as good as his won the UEFA Champions League in 1996.
10. On if Cristiano Ronaldo makes it almost an obligation to win the Champions League.
11. On the comparison between Deschamps in the Juventus midfield in 1996 with Blaise Matuidi now on this team.
12. On if a project such as this Juventus can be a stimulant for a manager who has won a World Cup.
13. On Zinedine Zidane being spoken about as a candidate for Juve's bench.
14. On if the Juventus project can help all of the Italian football movement.
15. On Steven Nzonzi's arrival at Roma who is another World Cup champion.
16. On Gigi Buffon's arrival at PSG and if it surprises him that he is still at the top at age 40.
17. On the road of Roberto Mancini's Italy that is just taking off and how he complains about the lack of young Italians with Serie A clubs.

Let's take a longer look at this excellent interview with Mister Deschamps.

1. On how his success in 1998 helped him in 2018:

"The players and the event were different. There is always something you can take advantage of. But the key word, which is helpful for anyone who trains, is to adapt yourself every day to each situation. What worked once is difficult to repeat itself. Perhaps the 1998 World Cup inspired me due to certain aspects how the group functioned. But the sporting world of twenty years ago is very different.

2. On if the France of 1998 was better than the 2018 version:

"They are different teams who knew how to be better at the right time to win a World Cup. There were many young players this year: Fourteen at their first great competition. Only nine came from the last World Cup or Euro 2016. I bet on young players of quality, looking for balance with those who had more experience, without being too old."

3. On what is the ingredient to win:

"I didn't take all of the best players but put together a group to go as far as possible. It is a reflection that integrates criteria beyond footballing ones. Technical quality is indispensable but even more important is the human aspect, the capacity to live together, to become a group. I evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each one. Those are data that only my staff and I have. To win, you make the most important decision when you compile your list of 23 players."

4. On one of the symbols of the young French team, Kylian Mbappé, who scores more than Leo Messi at his age:

"They are two different players with different qualities. But one thing is certain: Mbappé is a superstar and he is young."

5. On if Kylian Mbappé belongs in the same category as Leo Messi:

"I would say so even if Kylian is just starting out. I don't want to take away anything; however, Messi has been at the highest level for at least a decade. There is a great possibility that Mbappé will have a great career. He has already done important things. Even if at his age, there were others just as decisive or those who had won a World Cup. But Kylian going forward has great margins for improvement."

6. On If Luka Modric remains the favorite for the Ballon d'Or and if it would upset him if one of his French players didn't win:

"It would be a disappointment, not only due to the World Cup title, but also because many of them, from Griezmann to Varane to Mbappé, have won other important trophies with their respective clubs. Modric deserves the FIFA award. Whoever win the Ballon d'Or will deserve it. I hope it is a Frenchman."

7. On if Paul Pogba could win the Ballon d'Or despite his difficulties with Manchester United:

"The whole team is having a lot of problems. Pogba is always the same and belongs with the best midfielders of the world. But regarding the relationship between players and managers, I never comment.

8. On if Juventus fans dream about Paul Pogba's return to Turin:

"Dreams make up a part of life (he laughs). Perhaps the fans didn't dream for Ronaldo who then on the other hand arrived. At times, dreams come true. But in respect to many years ago, it would now cost Juve much more to buy back Pogba.

9. On if today's Juventus is as good as his won the UEFA Champions League in 1996:

"But we lost two finals in a row. Today's Juve has returned to the top in Italy and Europe. Winning a Champions League is akin to winning a World Cup. Therefore, at the start, you also have more favorites in the Champions League. Those seven or eight teams that can legitimately aspire to go all the way. But at the final hurdle, only one can make it. Allegri's Juve is competitive just as the one where I played. But the difference is also found in the details. This Juventus team has the means to be among the favorites."

10. On if Cristiano Ronaldo makes it almost an obligation to win the Champions League:

"Surely with him, Juve is even more competitive, but we will only know the response next Spring. But with Ronaldo, Juve guaranteed itself a player who knows how to be decisive in the important moments. He has always been and continues to work to remain such despite his age. He is a professional of the greatest level."

11. On the comparison between Deschamps in the Juventus midfield in 1996 with Blaise Matuidi now on this team:

"They are very different situations. Blaise has another role and is a left-footed player. But I spoke to him before he signed, explaining to him that Juve is a great club, very organized with the utmost of professionalism in each sector. Matuidi is doing very well in Turin and I'm not surprised."

12. On if a project such as this Juventus can be a stimulant for a manager who has won a World Cup:

"Juve's project is ambitious, modern, and I will always remain attached to the shirt because it gave me so much as a player. I have tried a little already to reinstitute some of it as a manager, but now I am doing very well with the French team."

13. On Zinedine Zidane being spoken about as a candidate for Juve's bench:

"But the position is already occupied by a great manager such as Allegri who is doing a great job. Then it could go to Zidane, with a Juventus past such as my own, if he will be able to have an opportunity. One will see."

14. On if the Juventus project can help all of the Italian football movement:

"Serie A is still an important league even if the English Premier League is ahead due to superior economic means. In Italy, however, a few clubs are returning to competitive levels in Europe. Such as Roma and Napoli. Investors with heavy influence have returned even at Milan and Inter. Ronaldo's arrival has guaranteed a greater window abroad for the entire league. A little like Neymar is for PSG and Ligue 1. Surely, you always talk about Juve also as the number one, but it's clear that the marketing effect of a superstar such as the Portuguese allows you to reach every corner of the planet."

15. On Steven Nzonzi's arrival at Roma who is another World Cup champion:

"The World Cup gave him the exposure that he deserves. He is a great player. Despite being very tall in stature, he is very technical and really comfortable on the ball. When you change teams, there is always a period of adaption, to get used to a new country, and a new type of football. But I have seen that Steven has begun to score goals and I'm happy for him."

16. On Gigi Buffon's arrival at PSG and if it surprises him that he is still at the top at age 40:

"We are not only speaking about a splendid person, who can transmit a great deal as a role model for young people, but also of a great champion who can be precious in an ambitious side such as PSG. It's only enough to see how he works to remain at the top of his game. Perhaps after so many years at Juve, he needed new motivations. And Paris is also a beautiful city to live in."

17. On the road of Roberto Mancini's Italy that is just taking off and how he complains about the lack of young Italians with Serie A clubs:

"I had already discussed this 12 years ago when I managed at Juventus. It's also a question of formation that we here in France do very well. The system is different for you Italians. Where a player has to start out in Serie B and then pass through mid-table sides. And then he lands at a top club perhaps at the age of 23 or 24. Even in England, they had the same problem.

For us, young players have the chance to play immediately at good levels. Anyway, it doesn't often happen that Italy doesn't qualify for a World Cup. You have to take advantage of a negative moment to change and improve. Mancini is not starting out at zero. Surely, for now he has only some players of real quality, but he has an ambitious project to qualify for the European Cup. He will need time, but I told him in June when we faced each other in the friendly: In a national team, there is always too little time."

Italian source:

Grandesso, Alessandro; La Gazzetta dello Sport, Deschamps: "Questa Juventus come la mia che trionfò in Champions. Torna Pogba? Sognare si può"; 10/10/2018. ("This Juventus is like mine who won the Champions League. Will Pogba return? You can always dream.")


Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator based in Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and published The Soccer Translator from 2008 to 2015. He has also contributed at Beyond The Pitch, Keeper Skool, and Soccerlens (Sportslens).

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