Alain Giresse, part of one of the most successful French teams in history, is hopeful Les Bleus can win the World Cup but says that there is too much pressure being placed on the shoulders of Kylian Mbappe.
Giresse, one quarter of France’s ‘magic square’ midfield along with Michel Platini, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez, reached the semi-finals of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, as well as winning the European Championships in 1984, and says that this current crop of French internationals have a fantastic chance of emulating the 1998 France side by winning the World Cup this summer.
“The French team has performed very well at the World Cup,” Giresse told Mark Bosnich on the latest episode of RT’s The Stan Collymore Show.
“We hoped and believed France could make it to the semi-finals and that’s happened. Anything is possible now, with the teams that have advanced to the semi-finals, why not?"
France topped Group C at Russia 2018 and while they didn’t look spectacular in doing so, Giresse says he is heartened to see the team peaking at the right time.
“France might make it to the top,” he said. “That’s why now the French people are happy. We’re very glad to see our team’s progress. They started at a calm pace and then adjusted to the World Cup’s rhythm. Everything is great now.”
One word of caution, however. A lot of expectation has been placed upon PSG’s teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe but Giresse says it is up to the senior players in the squad to guide him through the latter stages of the tournament.
“There are players like him in every team. We, midfielders, used our speed to our advantage and served passes to the teammates who opened up, so we knew how to pass and run forward. That’s what France are somewhat missing today.
“During the group stage, France were struggling against Australia, Peru and Denmark. Mbappe is still too young. He needs to progress, he must realize there are different plays - with open space and without. You must be able to play well and individually as a team. So there is still a lot he can learn. And experienced players like us could help him move forward.”
France take on Belgium in the World Cup semi-final at St. Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday.