Final clash of two great football nations, shouldn’t focus on individuals: Lloris

France goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris said the FIFA World Cup final is a clash between two football nations and the focus shouldn’t be on individual players as he is trying to remain ‘calm’ ahead of the title match.

“I do tend to be someone who remains calm in general. But, like anybody, emotions can take over and I do talk a lot in the changing room. That is part of being a footballer. These are things you can’t necessarily control. I do remain calm. That is pretty much all I can say,” Lloris said on the eve of the final match against Argentina.

“I believe the event is too massive to just be focused on one player. It is a final between two big nations in football.”

France are trying to successfully defend the title they won four years back in Russia defeating Croatia. All the pre-match focus has shifted on Argentina’s Lionel Messi, who is playing in the fifth World Cup and looking for one elusive title which is missing from his cabinet, the FIFA World Cup trophy.

“Obviously when you face that type of player you need a special focus on him, but it is not only about him,” said Lloris, who captained the Les Blues to a title four years back in Russia.

Messi, 35, is to set for a tournament record appearance on Sunday as the final will be his 26th World Cup game, one more than German Lothar Matthäus. Like France, Argentina will be bidding for a third title.

“They are a strong team with a lot of talented players. They have a young generation of players and you can feel they are all dedicated to Lionel Messi, but we will try and find the key to get the success.”

Asked about his thoughts on neutral fans wanting Messi to mark his final World Cup appearance with a winners’ medal: “We have the support of our fans and we know the French people are behind us. Nothing else really matters.”

“We started this World Cup with an objective to go as far as possible, and very few people believed in us at the outset. We are now in the final, four years after our last final, and we’re going to pull out all the stops to try and win this game.

Lloris who is on the verge of becoming the first captain to lift the World Cup twice if France win on Sunday said: “I was privileged enough to win the trophy in 2018. I am very proud of that. But, to be honest, I am focusing on the present now. What happened in the past belongs to the past. We are looking forward to writing our own history and creating our own story and we want to finish this tournament as well as we possibly can.

“Of course it is going to be the most difficult match in the tournament. It is the final, that goes without saying. We are going to have to be ready for any scenario.

“We are going to be ready to show great solidarity and graft. In spite of all the games, and the tiredness, and the virus that has been going through the camp, we are going to have to finish the job as well as we can.

Lloris said going into final match will see some change in France’s style of play and plan for Argentina:

“In a World Cup you need to be ready to play defensively at times and get through those tough challenges in a match. You have to adapt. We were facing world class teams and that was true against Morocco and England.

“I thought in the second half that we dropped back too much personally, but that was also due to a good performance from Morocco.

“In the match tomorrow we will try and respect our game plan. We are still looking at the team formation and how to prepare for the game. Things always happen in a match that you’re not necessarily prepared for and that is where you need to show a good team spirit and you also need to have that feeling of pulling out all of the stops and digging deep in those tough moments.

“It is true that we are good on the break because we have some very quick players in attack but really it depends on the game. We are very good as a team because we know how to adapt to different scenarios.”

Asked on the difference between the team of 2018 to the present squad Lloris said: “What happens in the changing room before the match isn’t always planned. It is spontaneous and it depends what I feel like saying at the time.”

“After the final four years ago the context was very different, the opponent was very different. It was a different tournament. You have to live in the moment. Of course our experience four years ago can help those of us that played in that match, but tomorrow’s game is something totally different.

“We are looking forward to making the history books in our own way: our players and our staff. We’ve already achieved a great deal in this tournament but we’re looking forward to going further.”

“I can say what I’ve seen during this World Cup: They are a very organised side, very strong defensively and have a very strong press on whoever has the ball. They are very good on the break and take advantage of opponents’ mistakes.

“Over the years Argentina has always produced some world-class players; Maradona was a perfect example and now we’ve got Lionel Messi. They are legends of football.

“Everyone will be really looking forward to the final in the Argentina camp, but for France, whoever you play in a World Cup final, it will be a tremendous occasion, and maybe playing Argentina makes that more of an attractive proposition. I sincerely hope this match will go down in history, French history in particular.”

20221217-222002

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