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The French team won their second world champion star in the summer of 2018, winning by a score of four goals to two in the final against Croatia. The Azzurri, who from this Tuesday (11/22) will therefore put the title on the line for entry into the race for the 2022 World Cup (November 20 – December 18), have arrived in Qatar completely transformed. And for good reason, there are only ten tricolors left in Russia. Despite this, Hugo Lloris does not believe in the curse that has been raging since the creation of the World Cup, with the exception of Brazil in 2006. During a long interview with L’Équipe, the Italian captain returned to many topics, including this superstition.
Will he still be world champion during and after the World Cup?
“It is something that will never be taken away from us, it belongs to us. The 1998 world champions, we still see them as world champions, and we will be the same. It will be thanks to us, and for the good things we lived together. It will always be a good memory. But we always look ahead, towards the new achievements that await us. World champion, you are for life. Then, every four years, there’s a new title and reigning world champions up for grabs. And this is how we are judged and looked at, throughout this period. We, the players, quickly move on to something else, because we’re in the next competition, the next challenge. It is when the next World Cup comes that we measure that we will defend our title. »
Difficulty maintaining the title:
“Because you immediately become the team to beat, first. I remember how it felt to play against Germany or Spain, the two previous world champions. The picture of the match doesn’t count anymore, it’s more than a qualification or a friendly match, he’s the world champion and you want to challenge him, measure yourself against him. I’ve experienced it both ways, on both sides, and in Qatar it will be even stronger to experience. If we look at the last World Cup, the reigning champions have suffered quite a few misadventures…”
Curse of the World Champions:
“We have been warned. No, I don’t believe in these things. But there is another element to consider: there is sometimes a lot of renewal among the reigning world champions, and in Qatar there won’t be many world champions. We can’t yet know if this will be an advantage or a disadvantage, but we can’t in any case qualify as an aging team. There is a new generation and a passing of the baton, which the coach has managed well. Indeed, we do not have a title to defend: we have a title to seek.
Being the Captain:
“I’ll think about it later. But having lived it as captain, yes, it’s even stronger, because first you raise the Cup… I’m grateful to all my team-mates for making it possible, and at the same time I also have this responsibility of captaincy towards them, and to times, there are not only positive sides (smile). But we were chosen for this. »
The special program:
“After so many years in football, it was still a new experience, a discovery, and it wasn’t really easy: the closer you get to the World Cup, the more you want to reduce the chances of injury, but your club needs you in the league, in the Champions League, and you can’t tiptoe there. We’ve played every three days since the start of the season. I hope we had enough time to freshen up, but in Doha, in a new place, in a different environment, the days before the first match will do us good. I thought about it when we spent two days in Marseille with Tottenham, in the Champions League, under the sun, by the sea: my physique was immediately much better (smile).”
The absences of Pogba and Kanté:
“You’re not leaving in the best way, no. But the goal is always to form a collective, a force, with whoever is there. Paul and Ngolo are so important, for their talent, but also for their personalities. When I’m in the room, something happens. We cannot replace them. But we can team up, without them, with players who can also reveal themselves by facing responsibilities. The coach has always given young players the chance to express themselves and reach new heights. After, they seized it, or not. The coach is at the forefront, and then there are the managers, but everything counts, even the little boy who arrives can be very important. »