‘Mature’ Rabiot gears up for midfield battle against England

Published December 8, 2022
FRANCE’S Adrien Rabiot attends a press conference at the Al Sadd SC Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP
FRANCE’S Adrien Rabiot attends a press conference at the Al Sadd SC Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP

IN France’s opening press conference at the World Cup in Qatar, Adrien Rabiot said he was keen to shed his ‘bad boy’ image; his career having seen a series of bust-ups with players and coaches. His international career seemed over when he refused to be part of the stand-by list for the 2018 World Cup, which France won. But look how far he’s come now. Rabiot’s stock has risen since his recall for last year’s European Championships.

He’s been a key cog of Didier Deschamps’ side in their run to the quarter-finals; being the most experienced player available for France after injuries ruled out the influential Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante. And worries about France’s midfield axis being unable to gel in with the fearsome forward line have been emphatically dispelled.

With France taking on cross-channel rivals England on Saturday for a spot in the semi-finals, it was Rabiot who came for a news conference on Wednesday. Having translated his club form with Juventus to international level, Rabiot felt he’d never felt better before. “I’d say this is the best football period of my career,” he said. “It also comes from the fact that I’ve become more mature. I’m now more comfortable with my technical qualities.”

Rabiot proved his worth when he got two goals in France’s opening game against Australia. “Now I can focus more than before and move forward and be decisive in attack,” added the 27-year-old. “It makes me happy that I’ve scored and made assists. I’ve worked harder in training and today I’m a more complete player.”

Rabiot had a word of praise for his midfield partner Aurelien Tchouameni, who’s been very dependable sitting in front of France’s backline. “Aurelien has this role which compensates my runs forward, and allows me to play higher,” said Rabiot. “I don’t have to defend all the time and recover the ball since he’s there to ensure that the defence is covered and he brings the ball forward.”

Now, Rabiot expects a tough midfield battle with England. “Even if Tchouameni and I hadn’t played a lot before the World Cup, we have settled in and against an England side, which is strong in midfield, it will be a battle to play the balls to the forward line,” said Rabiot.

In Kylian Mbappe up front, France have the most exciting player at this World Cup. Mbappe lit up the tournament when he scored two stunning goals in France’s last-16 triumph against Australia but Rabiot said France were not dependent on the 23-year-old who has the opportunity to win the World Cup for the second time in his young career.

“There is no dependency,” said Rabiot. “He is our main weapon but we also have other players who can make a difference. “Kylian is impressive and from year to year, he evolves and becomes even better. I don’t know where it will stop. We are lucky to have him in our team and not against us. We just know that most of our goals will come from him as he can also deliver assists and our job is to put him in the best conditions for that.”

Centre-back Ibrahima Konate spoke before Rabiot at the news conference and he was looking forward to the battle bet­ween Mbappe and England right-back Kyle Wal­ker. “Wal­ker and Mbappe are two very great players,” said Konate. “Walker is one of the best right-backs in the world and I can’t wait to see this battle.”

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Road to perdition
Updated 01 Feb, 2023

Road to perdition

This is also the time of reckoning for those who sowed the seeds of a disastrous policy against militants.
Transport tragedies
01 Feb, 2023

Transport tragedies

TWO tragedies over the weekend illustrate the weak protocols governing the safety of transport in Pakistan. In fact,...
Disqualifying Jam Awais
01 Feb, 2023

Disqualifying Jam Awais

IT appears that there may be some kind of small punishment after all for PPP lawmaker Jam Awais, who was pardoned ...
Police Lines bombing
Updated 31 Jan, 2023

Police Lines bombing

Where the menace of terrorism is concerned, the government and opposition need to close ranks and put up a united front.
Oil price hike
31 Jan, 2023

Oil price hike

THE record single-day increase in petrol prices, preceded by massive currency depreciation, signifies the ...
Babar Azam’s award
31 Jan, 2023

Babar Azam’s award

BABAR Azam might not have lifted many trophies as Pakistan’s all-format captain in the last year but the star...