He may have stopped enjoying some time in the past, however Robert Pires nonetheless refers back to the French nationwide soccer staff as “we”.
So, when France’s 1998 World Cup-winning big name talks about Kylian Mbappe, France’s 2022 World Cup sensation proceeding to mesmerize along with his pace at the inexperienced and ability at the ball, we pay attention.
“Against Poland, he was outstanding,” Pires mentioned. “He’s come up the good way; he’s a great talent, good technique. Of course, everybody can see the speed of Mbappe. I think nobody can stop him—he is so fast. For France, for (Didier) Deschamps, he is very important.”
The PSG forward’s twin strikes in France’s 3-1 win against Poland in the Round of 16 showed the damage he can inflict with a speck of space and time before launching those rockets. He leads the Golden Boot race in Qatar with five goals, and his nine goals in just two World Cup appearances sit alongside Lionel Messi.
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Pires sees something different in this 23-year-old Mbappe from the teen who was part of the World Cup-winning team in Russia.
“He’s not the same when we won four years ago,” Pires, in Mumbai as part of Viacom18’s expert panel for the World Cup, said. “He has reached a higher level. He’s more mature now, and that’s why he’s much better.”
Add to that maturity a dash of, as Pires likes to call it, stubbornness in focus. It is why Mbappe has shunned any media activities during the World Cup, putting on his blinders while choosing to avoid any outside noise.
“When you play with confidence, you can try everything. And it’s because he’s stubborn, because he wants to be No. 1. He wants to say, ‘I’m the No. 1’.
“When I say stubborn, it’s about the work; not stubborn in talking with some guys. He is stubborn in his focus. That’s why he is stubborn on the field. In the dressing room, I don’t care. When he plays in PSG with Neymar, Messi, I think he’s fantastic. Especially in France, we are very happy to watch the trio every weekend. For me, for the people in France, it is a joy to watch him at PSG,” Pires said.
“For me, he is—no, not the No. 1—but one of the best players in the world.”
From one of the world’s best, the conversation steers to France’s best in goalscoring records. Pires’s face lights up at the mention of Olivier Giroud.
“Giroud, my friend,” Pires smiled. “He is a very good striker, but totally different from someone like (Karim) Benzema. I know in AC Milan all the players like to play with Giroud. Even Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), so you can imagine!”
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The French avid gamers for sure preferred enjoying with him, and his opening purpose in opposition to Poland was once his 52nd for the nationwide staff, breaking Thierry Henry’s file.
“I am very happy for him. He deserves this because he is so focused, he believes so much in himself and his quality and he plays for the team. We need a player like Olivier Giroud,” Pires said. “I spoke with him this (Monday) morning, and he told me it’s like a dream. When he started, he told me, 51 is too far. And now, he is number one.”
Pires recalled a chat with Giroud after Les Bleus lifted the trophy four years ago. “He told me, yeah we won, but I didn’t score. He was a little bit disappointed,” Pires said. “Today, he has scored goals, he has broken the record and I hope he lifts the trophy.”
No staff has controlled to shield its identify in six a long time. However, Pires reckons this French bunch no longer simplest has extra enjoy than 4 years in the past but additionally higher unravel. “We’re stronger now at the head, especially the mentality. We’re focused on this target,” Pires mentioned, including harm setbacks to key avid gamers like Benzema have didn’t disrupt the French optimism.
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“We are lucky in France because we have so many good players. We play like a team, and we have some very good quality in the squad.”
Pires likened France’s quarter-final take a look at in opposition to England to a rugby contest, “very, very tough”. And is licking his lips on the prospect of a specific struggle.
“England and France are very similar. They play 4-3-3 too. We have great talent, so does England. They have good quality, good skills, players who run fast with the ball. Maybe not like Mbappe, but players like Foden, Saka are very good. And I want to see the face-off (between) Mbappe vs Walker. Just for the speed. It should be electric.”
And who does he fancy seeing at the night of December 18?
“I want to see the same final like in 1998,” Pires, a part of that last wherein France beat Brazil 3-0 at house, mentioned with a grin. Brazil and France in Doha.
“And the winner is… France.”