5/16/2018 9:12:34 PM (GMT+3)

France is a well-balanced side, but there’s weakness in full-backs, says Boghossian

France is a well-balanced side, but there’s weakness in full-backs, says Boghossian

PARIS: During France’s successful 1998 FIFA World Cup campaign, Alain Boghossian played a thankless but essential role in Les Bleus’ triumph.

The former midfielder featured in five of France’s seven games at the finals, including one match as a starter. His contribution was every bit crucial like many of his former team-mates.

Boghossian spoke to FIFA.com about his role, memories of that landmark tournament and France’s prospects in Russia.

How has football changed since 1998?

It’s faster, although it was already pretty fast at the time. We also focus a lot more on individuals. There have always been players who were a cut above, but it seems to me that the team mattered more before. You always prefer to have great players in your team, but nowadays we put a lot of pressure on them as individuals.

What was it like being a substitute for France in 1998?

You have to be ready when you're chosen to go on and accept it when you’re not. Otherwise, you’re not a good team player. It's important to understand your role. I was always honoured to be there and always gave everything when I was sent on.

What did Didier Deschamps and Emmanuel Petit have that you did not?

For a start, I didn't have anything like Didier’s list of achievements. He was captain of Marseille and France, and his experience was on another level. I felt automatically that I was on a rung below him, though I wouldn't have had any qualms about taking over if he'd played badly. Petit was more similar to me. He was a left-footed player with real athleticism, good technique and incredible powers of recovery.

Deschamps is one former player least focused on the 20th anniversary.

Didier has a far more important objective. Today, he’s the boss, and having been assistant France coach for four years, I know how intense the pressure gets in his position. He has a mission and also the unique opportunity to join that exclusive club of people who have won the World Cup both as a player and a coach.

Who will be the stars from this France squad in Russia?

Blaise Matuidi, Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba all has the qualities required to lead this team, but I think he's playing below his best and needs to focus on his job with the ball. We have players up front like Antoine Griezmann and young Kylian Mbappe. They're real assets in attack who frighten everyone and can lift the whole team. It’s a well-balanced side, although, for me, the one weakness remains the full-backs. We still haven’t found clear starters either on the right or left.

Do France have what it takes to come out on top?

We won't be able to say we had a good World Cup in Russia if we finish third or fourth. For me, as a former player, coach and a fan, the only acceptable result is victory.