Sunday 18 February 2018

Hugo Lloris: France can make history against Germany

France's national soccer team captain Hugo Lloris
France's national soccer team captain Hugo Lloris

Martyn Ziegler

France's unhappy history against Germany in the World Cup is looming over Friday's quarter-final encounter in the Maracana.

Not since 1958 have France emerged victorious, while there are still sore feelings over the infamous 1982 semi-final when West Germany won on penalties but only after France defender Patrick Battiston suffered a broken neck in a challenge by keeper Harald Schumacher that went unpunished.

Pictures of the Battiston incident dominated the front page of France's sports daily L'Equipe on Wednesday, highlighting the historical context of the game.

France's Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris said France will be looking to write a new page of history - and that Les Bleus are approaching the match without trepidation but with "sheer enjoyment".

He told a news conference in Rio de Janeiro: "We are not afraid of anything - we know full well that in one match just about anything is possible including for this to be our last one in the World Cup.

"But but there is no fear, it's a real pleasure, a sheer joy to play Germany.

"We want to win this match for our friends, our families, for France!

"There is a long history between both nations but as far as we are concerned we live for the present moment, we want to write our own history."

France also lost out to West Germany in the 1986 semi-finals but this time Didier Deschamps' side are riding a confidence surge that has seen them reach the last eight without ever facing a serious challenge and playing some impressive stuff along the way.

Deschamps said: "We have played a very good World Cup and we will have a major opponent in Germany who is used to these situations.

"They always seem to get to the quarter-finals, semi-finals or final so are more experienced.

"Our strong points are that our players are very competitive and some play for major European clubs at a top level so we have had to make them more united.

The fact that you are in the French team means you have duties and responsibilities and the spirit has been very high since the beginning of our preparation period.

"There is no pressure on the players, history is what has been and gone and tomorrow we will maybe write a new page in history."

Deschamps has Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho fit again and that might mean Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny is likely to lose his place in the starting line-up despite some good performances.

Another Arsenal player, Olivier Giroud, may also start on the bench after his partnership with Karim Benzema failed to spark against Nigeria.

France looked much more incisive when Real Sociedad's Antoine Griezmann came on for Giroud and played on the left, allowing Benzema to push forward, and that is likely to be Deschamps' plan for the start against Germany.

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