Desailly reveals French confidence
- 3 Jul 06, 03:43 PM
FRANKFURT - Marcel Desailly is still very close to the French team.
Four of those who played in the victory over Brazil in Frankfurt played alongside Marcel in the 1998 World Cup final in Paris - Fabien Barthez, Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram and Patrick Vieira.
And the former France defender, who retired in 2004, told me that since the win over Spain there's been real belief in the squad that they can go on and become world champions.
I met Desailly after the Brazil game, he was obviously delighted his old muckers had toppled the pre-tournament favourites.
He was besieged by the French media. Once they realised he was only working for the BBC and French radio, they were happy enough to just get a souvenir photo alongside the former France captain.
Eventually, we ushered him up to the press stand past a smiling Arsene Wenger. The two embraced. And then our cameraman was ready and we started rolling.
Marcel was great to interview because he speaks from the heart. That's what you want from an interviewee, someone with strong opinions who is passionate yet objective at the same time. He was worried about his English but that was not a problem.
Marcel said that the win over Spain was the turning point for France. He described that performance as a revelation.
For at least three players - Thuram, Barthez and Zidane, this is their last chance and they want to leave on a high particularly after the disappointment at the last World Cup and the European Championship.
There has been a lot of talk about Ronaldhino not fulfilling expectations. But Marcel said Carlos Alberto Parreira must take some of the blame. The manager hasn't exactly played to Ronaldhino's strengths at this tournament, and starting with Juninho at the Commerzbank Arena further isolated the Barca man.
Watching Ronaldhino fight to get into the game reminded me of Wayne Rooney's plight with England.
A manager's tactics can render even the greatest talents a side show. Surely if you have a world-class player, you build the team around him to get the best out of him?
Still the French weren't complaining. This was the 55th time Zizou and Henry had played together in national colours and the first time commentators had been able to string together the words: "Zidane ... Henry ... Goal!".
My next stop is Dortmund for Germany v Italy.