“Didier Deschamps? I think we have to move on…”

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Reigning world champions, the France team will put their title on the line against Australia for the first match of group D, Tuesday November 22 (8 p.m., to follow live on Foot Mercato). Before going to Qatar, Jérôme Rothen spoke about the situation of the Blues before the launch of the competition. Whereas RMC will be the official radio station of the World Cup and will provide nearly 300 hours of live coverage during the tournament, Jérôme Rothen’s program will have a major place in the coverage of this planetary event. Having become a real reference in the French media landscape, the program Rothen ignites accumulated 3.2 million podcast listens in October 2022 (i.e. the 12th podcast in France and an increase of nearly 47% in one year). This shows how much the analyzes of the one who wore the jersey of the France team 13 times during his playing career are followed and listened to. For Foot MercatoJérôme Rothen scans the news of the Blues, gives the strengths and weaknesses of this team and takes stock of the future of Didier Deschamps…

Foot Mercato: can France retain its title of world champion?

Jerome Rothen: it’s difficult. We see it on the historical plan of the World Cup that it is difficult to keep your title. I think the France team has plenty of areas for improvement in this World Cup. Not to say no, I will say that it is very complicated. I remain a supporter of the France team but in all objectivity, it will be very hard.

FM: For you, what will be the surprise of the French team during the World Cup? Which player will turn out?

JR: the surprise may come from the midfielders. I think the midfield is the big downside with the packages of N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba. I remain convinced that the France team has weakened with these two packages. The players who are supposed to replace them are not at the level of these two players. Even if most play in big European clubs, such as Aurélien Tchouaméni, Eduardo Camavinga or Adrien Rabiot and Youssouf Fofana. I would bet on one of these players.

FM: Can Kylian Mbappé win the World Cup for France?

JR: he had a role in 2018. We forget it a little too much on the analyzes that we have on him, criticism is a little easy on Kylian especially since he resigned to Paris Saint-Germain. But we must not forget the player he is. You have to remember how he helped us to be world champions in 2018. Now he has the experience of this World Cup, he knows that at this level he can perform very well. It remains an outstanding competitor. He is formatted to be good in major competitions. I hope he will be able to give more strength to this France team. If Mbappé is at his best level, I wish good luck to all the teams that will face him. There is no better in my opinion.

FM: how Didier Deschamps will manage the various absences, in particular those of Pogba and Kanté?

JR: he must have had headaches for weeks. I think he did not expect to have these two packages. But he had anticipated because on the last selections, Kanté and Pogba have often been absent. So there are players who started playing: Tchouaméni, Fofana, Rabiot, Camavinga. These players have been tested. Didier Deschamps analyzes the matches better than anyone. He sees that in midfield, for the moment, it does not release the strength of a team that is going to be world champion… It’s a big black spot for him, but I remain convinced that he will manage to find the necessary ingredients to make this midfield strong. The midfielder is essential in football today.

FM: the player you would have liked to see selected for the World Cup but who is not there?

JR: the Franck Ribéry of 2006, we don’t have it today in France. There are good young players, but they still need to improve. In fact, I find it difficult to find because I tell myself that with the players we have, apart from the midfield, we still have a lot of possibilities. Among the goalkeepers for example, I would have liked to see a Brice Samba or an Alban Lafont who has made enormous progress over the past two years. These are group choices. Offensively, when you have Mbappé, Dembélé, Coman, and also Giroud, it’s hard to find room for someone else.

FM: after the World Cup, do we continue with Didier Deschamps or place Zinedine Zidane?

JR: I have so much respect for Didier, for what he did. It’s hard to speak for him. Logic would dictate that he leaves his place after the World Cup whatever happens. He’s been there for ten years. He won the most beautiful of competitions, he took the French team to the final of the Euro. I hope he can be world champion again, and even if he isn’t, I think he’s had his day. I think we have to move on. We must change the way the French Football Federation operates. He forever marked the history of the France team, but we want to see someone else. The logic is there with what Zinedine Zidane has done at club level. He has not taken a club since leaving Real Madrid, when he was asked. I think he is waiting for the France team. The France team is the people’s team. We must go in the direction of popular momentum, it is expected. We have to move on.

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