World Cup champions offer advice to women counterparts: Enjoy every minute
Last Wednesday, for the first time ever, the France men's and women's football teams dined together at Clairefontaine.
The idea came from Didier Deschamps and Corinne Diacre, the two head coaches who share similar coaching values, including the importance of togetherness, attitude and mentality. That's what this dinner was all about: sharing the recipe for success, exchanging ideas on how to win a World Cup. And it sparked immediate conversation. Amandine Henry, the women's captain, sat next to Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann and had plenty of questions to ask them. Kylian Mbappé and Kadidiatou Diani, who also play for PSG, were at the same table and had a lot to talk about.
The U21 men were also invited, and each table was composed of three players on each team. Diacre, Deschamps and Sylvain Rippoll were all together. And everywhere, the words from the 2018 World Cup winners to the 2019 World Cup hopeful were the same: You can do it!
"Playing in a World Cup is a great moment to experience. Playing in such a big competition is just magnificent. They have to enjoy each bit of it, that's the most important [thing]. And we are convinced that they will make us dream," Blaise Matuidi told reporters.
Deschamps has had many discussions with Diacre about how to build a successful squad and how to communicate well with the team and with the media. His counterpart welcomed the advice.
"They have nothing to envy to the other big nations. They are among the favorites to win this World Cup. But this is the highest level, and it will be decided on details. I really hope they will prove during this competition that they are part of the best in the world," Deschamps said on Saturday.
Olivier Giroud missed the dinner as he was playing with Chelsea against Arsenal in the Europa League that night in Baku. But the striker has a message for Wendie Renard & Co: "We trust them and we really believe that they can go all the way. They have to believe in their ability and be ready to fight for each other from the first minute to the last. They have a great squad with strong leaders and a lot of talent. They will express it on the pitch and we are all with them," Giroud told ESPN on Wednesday.
Pogba is one of the biggest fans of this French women's team.
"I'm so behind this team. My player is Amandine (Henry), number 6! First of all, I wish them good luck. They are a very strong team with some good young players as well and a lot of talent. We will follow them, support them, hoping that they will win the tournament and then come to get their Legion d'Honneur from the president," Pogba told ESPN on Tuesday outside l'Elysée palace in Paris, where he and his 2018 teammates received their medal from French President Emmanuel Macron.
Like he did last summer before the men's World Cup, Macron paid a visit to the women's team on Tuesday. He is hoping to have the same impact this time and certainly had a similar message for the players.
"I have a few simple words for you. The first one is unity and cohesion. I have watched your last matches and it's a collective unit which will face this World Cup. It is your ability to be together, united, starters and substitutes, and decide that this togetherness will beat everything else. Whatever happens, and there will doubts at some point like in every competition, you will have to stay together," the French president told the players. He also told them, like he did with the men, that when you play a World Cup, it's to win it.