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Football | Friday, June 14, 2024 2:49 PM (Revised at: Friday, June 14, 2024 3:52 PM)

Mikael Silvestre points out one weakness in the French squad for Euro 2024

Mikael Silvestre points out one weakness in the French squad for Euro 2024
Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo: France's forward #10 Kylian Mbappe during the International friendly football match

With France heading to Euro 2024 as one of the favourites, we got a few words in with former French international, Mikael Silvestre.

The ex Manchester United star talked about the pressure that France are facing ahead of their opener vs Austria, as well as discussing the squad’s strengths, weaknesses, and how he sees the group pan out.

Pressure is on France but they can deal with it unlike England

Didier Deschamps’ French side didn’t have the best results before the tournament but their squad depth and quality makes them one of the favourites alongside England.

Silvestre acknowledges that there will be pressure on Les Bleus but he sees it as a positive and believes that Deschamps’ men will not be fazed by it. 

“Yeah the pressure is on. I don’t think it’s going to affect the players. In 2022, in Qatar, playing as defending champions, we didn’t feel the extra pressure.”

“I think they can turn this into positive pressure. They know their level but they had some games where they didn’t perform really well so I think they will be humble.”

He then takes a slight dig at rivals England, saying that the pressure on the French is unlike that on England.

“The pressure on France is nothing compared to that in England. The players don’t seem to be affected that much. They do but most of the time, it’s positive.”

Kylian Mbappe for the Golden Ball

Silvestre also earmarked his compatriot, and latest Real Madrid signing, Kylian Mbappe to win the best player of the tournament. He also jokingly says that as Lionel Messi won’t be there in this tournament, it is Mbappe’s award to lose.

“Best player? Could be Mbappe. I think if France goes to the end and he’s performing like he did at the World Cup, he should be there.”

“Messi got it last time in Qatar but in this tournament there’s no Messi. There’s Cristiano but you don’t expect him to play as many minutes. So Kylian has a great chance to be that guy and I hope because if he does that means France has a great tournament.”

Silvestre also thinks that with the Real Madrid move now confirmed, Mbappe should play with freedom and flair.

“I think in theory, it’s the end of the story about whether he was leaving or where was he going. The fact that it’s announced must be a chip off his shoulders so in theory he should be in the best state of mind to go into the competition and perform at his best level.”

“I don’t think he’s tired mentally or physically and he should be able to shine. Maybe not be the decisive player in all the games because we would be expecting too much from him.”

“He should have a good tournament as now everything seems to be positive in his path.”

France to top Group D with Netherlands coming second

While analysing France’s group, the defender who was capped 40 times for France, sees his nation topping the table with the Dutch coming in second.

That being said, he acknowledges that Deschamps’ men are slow starters and it won’t be straightforward for them.

“It’s not an easy group. The toughest opponent for France will be Netherlands so on paper you expect those two teams to go through. Maybe France topping the group.”

“We’re not doing great at the beginning of tournaments, if we look back at all of them, we don’t do great in group stages.”

“Austria may be a tougher opponent compared to Poland. Marko Arnautovic, always. Always Marko. He can be dangerous who can make a difference with his experience.”

 “It won’t be easy but France have to finish 1st or 2nd to go to the next round and they should.”

France’s weakness can be complacency

When asked about a potential weakness in the side, Silvestre mentioned that the men can be a bit overconfident or complacent. He points to the loss to Switzerland at Euro 2021 as an example of that and exhorts them to avoid that situation.

“I think the only weakness may be overconfidence, or complacent. Because if you look at all the positions, the players have performed, they arrive in good shape and they qualified quite easily in that group.”

“Maybe the only weakness could be overconfidence, which was the case when they lost to Switzerland in Euro 2020. It was on penalties but the game was in France’s hands and they were surprised. In penalties, anything can happen.”

“I think overconfidence, or may be complacency is the better word, could be a weakness.”

William Saliba will play an important role

While William Saliba has wowed Arsenal and Premier League fans with his assured performances at the back, he’s not been able to replicate that for Deschamps and has played second fiddle to Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate.

Silvestre, however, believes that Saliba will be important to France, pointing to his performance against Canada.

“Saliba’s had some good games but also some difficult ones. He didn’t perform as well as he does with Arsenal. That’s why he’s not starting but that could change because he’s had good preparation and against Canada, he was the best on the field.”

“It’s close. People in France know the great season he had with Arsenal. They just want to see the same level of performance with France.”

“It’s just a matter of time. He will get there.”

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