Qatar: Raphael Varane warns against comparing team’s performance
French defender Raphael Varane warned against comparing his team’s performance in Qatar with their run to victory in the 2018 World Cup, saying times had changed.
The defending champions became the first team in the 32-nation tournament to reach the round of 16 by beating Denmark 2-1 on Saturday thanks to two second-half goals by the electric Kylian Mbappe.
Varane, who recovered from injury in time to play in his third World Cup, said the mix of veterans and young players on the squad had succeeded in adapting to changing circumstances but were wary of drawing parallels with the 2018 team.
“I think we have to avoid making too many comparisons. This is another time. The difficulty of a World Cup is that the players are different, they are in different shape. Four years in soccer is an eternity,” he said.
Varane said constant factors on the French team were their humility, serious work ethic and raw talent. “We have to continue working with the same values that have contributed to our success in recent years,” he said.
France, the first defending champions to reach the round of 16 since Brazil in 2006, play Tunisia in their last Group D match on Wednesday and are expected to use their substitutes to rest their star players ahead of the knockout stage.
Tunisia, who drew against Denmark and lost to Australia, should be regarded as serious opponents, Varane said.
“We have seen that it is a team capable of hurting us on the counter-attack in space, who presses with lots of energy. The Tunisians will fight for a victory,” he said.
In the last 16, France will face one of the teams from Group C — Poland, Saudi Arabia, Mexico or Argentina.