France boss Didier Deschamps has off-field Lionel Messi concerns

France and Kylian Mbappé train ahead of the World Cup final

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Didier Deschamps fears Lionel Messi is such a popular global superstar that even people in France want him to win his long-awaited World Cup winner’s medal. The PSG star has won every honour – individual and team – the game has to give but there remains one instantly recognisable hole in his trophy cabinet.

With Messi already announcing that this will be his final game in the competition for Argentina, there is a huge groundswell of support for him to crown his brilliant career with the ultimate accolade. And Deschamps, who won the trophy and as player in 1998 and as a manager 20 years later, feels that even stretches into home territory.

A lot happened, injuries and now sickness, everyone wants Messi to win? “In the World Cup final you have a match, but also a whole context behind it,” Deschamps explained. “The objective is to come out with the title.

“I know Argentinian fans and maybe some French people would hope Lionel Messi can win the World Cup but we are going to do everything to achieve our objective.” Deschamps has no problem with being the potential party-poopers and know that France are not ones who win many popularity contests.

“I often get that feeling but I am fine being alone, that doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Most fans will probably support Argentina because they are Argentinian, or will be supporting that team. There will be a very festive atmosphere, as Argentinians are a very passionate people, they get behind their team and that is a positive thing, it is good to have an atmosphere like that in a World Cup final.

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“But our opponents aren’t in the crowd, they are a team we face on the pitch and they are a good enough team to be worried about them. Both teams have the same objective and only one will come out with a third star.” France got that second star when they won in Russia four years ago having beaten Argentina in the first knockout round in a seven-goal thriller.

But Deschamps refuses to see that as any sort of precedent. “It is not the same team at all so there is no point comparing, it was a round of 16 match and the players were completely different,” he said. “The line-ups were different, the style and gameplans. Also our technical team were analysing Argentina’s games and have given us some precise information but admitted they could line up differently tomorrow and we could too.

“So you need to be ready for any scenario. These uncertainties always arrive, we are here and have done everything we can to be well prepared for tomorrow’s game.”


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His 10 years in the job have done nothing to curb his enthusiasm and although this World Cup’s major exits have proved the end of the line for some senior management figures, Deschamps’ own future will be the matter of less knee-jerk reflection. “Being France manager has always been the most wonderful thing that has happened to me in my career,” he said. “I played for France and that was a wonderful achievement and to be coach for so long has been tremendous.

“I am delighted to be France coach but the most important thing is the team. I am at the service of the team and have been for 10 years. It is about the team but I am not the most important person here. So it won’t all depend on this result.”

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