France coach Didier Deschamps says he knows Australia’s players well.
And he knows they won’t be pushovers in their World Cup opener in Qatar on Tuesday night (Wednesday 0600 AEDT).
But nerves?Any trepidation in the French camp?
“There’s no apprehension,” Deschamps told reporters.
“There is no anxiety or anything. Everyone is calm. There are cool heads.
“We know that Australia will give us a run for our money …we are not counting our chickens before they are hatched.
“We know our three opponents ahead of us, we know Australia very well.”
Deschamps dismissed the curse of the title-holders: at the past three World Cups, the defending champion has failed to advance from their group.
“This is based on statistics, probability, facts,” he said.
“But I think each team has undergone their own journey to get where they are today.
“It is up to us to have a squad that is aware of the objective of the first game.
“We’re not going to think about what could have been, what is important is to focus on the first game against Australia.
“Everything before is on the sideline now.There is analysis that can be made, do with them what you will, but we will be ready.”
Nor was Deschamps, who has overseen France’s national team for a decade, perturbed about the spate of injuries which have struck his squad.
Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema was ruled out after arriving in Doha, joining the esteemed likes of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Christopher Nkunku in missing the cup because of injury.
“It is full steam ahead with the team we have available to us,” he said.
“Less ambition and less desire to do everything to get to the end?I don’t think so.
“My options have changed. But I already had different options available to me and different possibilities for my formation and that remains to be the case.”
The injuries will force France into fielding a team with less experience but still with strong leadership, he said.
“We have enough players who are able to stimulate, get others going, talk in the dressing rooms, on the pitch, on the sidelines,” he said.
“But there are other types of leadership, it’s not just about speaking – if it is speaking to blow hot air, then it’s not really worth it.
“It’s important that each player is a leader in their position then we’ll see what they are made of on The Journal pitch.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, it can’t happen overnight. But we have exactly what we need.”