Euro 2024, Mbappé, Le Graët… Didier Deschamps takes stock of the year 2023


By: Nicolas Gerbault

2023 will have been a great year for the French team. Since the final of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, lost to Lionel Messi’s Argentina (3-3, 4 penalties to 2), the Blues have not experienced the slightest defeat in an official match, with a almost perfect record (9 wins, 1 draw) in qualifying for Euro 2024, a competition in which France will face Austria, the Netherlands and the winner of Path A of the play-offs. The only small downside being the friendly defeat against neighboring Germany last September. A great year for Didier Deschamps’ gang, who are now in their 12th season at the head of the double world champions, after having extended until 2026.

In a long interview given to Parisianthe French technician took stock of the year 2023, starting first with the management of his group, with an important transition with the new generation: “the first two successes against the Netherlands and Ireland in March 2023 were essential to get off to a good start and continue. (…) The average age has fallen, certainly, but the group relies on players accustomed to major competitions with the best European clubs. They are happy to find themselves in the French team. Above all, they are very competitive at heart. They are subject to enormous demands on a daily basis. This is the case with me too and I will not change, especially since they want to and are so with themselves. That’s what I really like about them.”

DD Mbappé-dependent?

The only setback in 2023 against the National Team was without its star striker Kylian Mbappé (2-1). However, Deschamps seems to accept his Mbappé-dependence: “When a team is lucky enough to have an extraordinary player, which is our case, it seems normal to me to count on him, right? This is valid for us and for all the other teams. Kylian is extraordinary. So much so that it has been argued that our offensive effectiveness rests on his shoulders alone. If Kylian is very effective, that didn’t stop us from having different scorers. Even forgetting Gibraltar (14-0), there was Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Randal Kolo Muani.

And if the double World champion (1998 as a player, 2018 as a coach) had decided to give the captain’s armband to his Parisian striker at the expense of Antoine Griezmann, he completely understands the Colchonero’s disappointment: “I am delighted with this choice, I knew everything would go well. Kylian fully assumes this role on and off the field. It does not weigh on him, it makes him responsible. He took his role to heart, he defends his players well, knows how to create a link between the youngest and the oldest. Concerning Antoine, at no time did I think that I was going to lose him. That he had a small disappointment, and even a big one, at the time yes. He is vice-captain. Grizou needs in the game, in his way of being, to have no constraints. Being captain involves more responsibilities, but also certain constraints.

Deschamps does not forget Le Graët

If Noël Le Gräet had to leave his position as president of the French Football Federation last February, notably due to a “inappropriate behavior towards women”the 55-year-old coach does not forget to pay tribute to his ex-manager:“I do not forget and no one should forget everything he did for more than 10 years at the Federation. (…) After “Lolo” (White), he chose me and always supported me, in the most difficult moments like during the play-off (for the 2014 World Cup) against Ukraine in 2013. A real turning point. Over time, we established a relationship of trust, proximity, and mutual respect, even though he was the president and therefore had the last word. This course of action has allowed us to experience success. (…) There are procedures in progress, which I do not have to comment on. But I repeat, let us not forget everything that has been accomplished.”

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