Defender Laurent Koscielny has declared the France team like a family ahead of the side’s opening World Cup game against Honduras on June 15.
France’s previous campaign in South Africa notoriously ended in turmoil, with the team finishing bottom of their group and the players leading a revolt over unpopular manager Raymond Domenech.
The events even led to a full-scale government inquiry but this around, under former World Cup-winning captain Didier Deschamps, coaching in his first international tournament, the atmosphere in the camp is decidedly different.
‘We feel that the France team is welded – that everyone is willing to make the effort. It’s welcomed,’ said Koscielny. ‘We are family, we need everyone. Even those you perhaps think aren’t important to the side. If we let it get away from us, it will be because of that.’
France nearly failed to qualify for Brazil, after having to overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit to Ukraine in the playoffs, but recent friendly results, including an 8-0 win over Jamaican in their final warm-up game, have filled the side with confidence ahead of the tournament.
That’s despite losing star player Franck Ribery to injury, with his place in the lineup set to be taken by the young and promising Antoine Griezmann, as well as Deschamps’ decision to leave Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri out of his final 23-man squad.
Nasri’s controversial omission is largely accepted to be due to a fallout with his manager rather than production issues on the pitch, with Deschamps himself stating when asked if the side had not always been so easy to jell together as unit: ‘Maybe, but it’s good when it’s behind us. It’s positive.
‘I’m not here with a joystick or remote control. They are humans – they do it naturally and spontaneously.’
Arsenal centre-back Koscielny is set to play in his first World Cup with the national team, after an impressive season with the Gunners in which he helped seal the side’s first major trophy in nine years with victory in the FA Cup final.
With France favourites to progress from their group, the 28-year-old is expected to start in the centre of defence alongside highly-rated Real Madrid youngster Raphael Varane and the now-united outfit should be confident of exercising the demons of four years ago.