Victims of Athens' traffic, Didier Deschamps and Adrien Rabiot appeared at a press conference thirty minutes later than scheduled. Behind the scenes at the Agia Sofia Stadium, AEK Athens' brand new hideout, the coach spoke in the wake of the Juventus player to express his desire to see his team finish the Euro qualifying phase on a high note. And preferably by avoiding new injuries, even if the equation is not simple.
Since his return from injury, you've mostly used Lucas Hernandez in the centre of defence. Do you still see him as a left-back?
DIDIER DESCHAMPS. He can play in two positions. When I put him in the list, it's first and foremost as a left-back. You'll see tomorrow (Tuesday).
To what extent do you use 1992 and achieving a Grand Slam in qualifying to motivate your troops?
(He smiles) It's not a rugby grand slam! We're going to play tomorrow to win, but one more win wouldn't give us any extra guarantees (Editor's note: for the Euros). Some of them weren't even born in 1992, so I don't see why I'll tell them about it. Today we're on a flawless run, so if we can stay like this...
After what happened to Warren Zaïre-Emery, how do you work on the risk of injury?
I have eight players who play on Friday night in the league, so if I take all the elements into account, I have the coaching staff play. I try to manage, but you can't manage everything. Above all, you can be very well, not very tired and still get injured. Of course, there are the feelings of the players who can tell me that they are not feeling well. I take that into account as much as possible, but I also have a team to put together by managing the five changes.
Randal Kolo Muani is not doing well at club level at the moment. Have you spoken to him?
He's fine, he's smiling. Not so good on the pitch? You're the one who says it! He can do better. Yes, of course I talk to him. We must not forget what he has been going through for the past year. The context and the requirements are higher, but it has the qualities. He's less successful but he's a young player who has steps to take, but he still has his serenity.
Will Adrien Rabiot, who was at the press conference, be captain?
No, he won't be captain. For the rest of the team, you'll see tomorrow.
What do you think of Brice Samba's start to the season? Is the hierarchy fixed with Areola?
Franck Haise has given Brice a little more responsibility by appointing him captain. Brice, like his club, had a slightly more difficult start to the season. But he's a competitor, they've turned things around with RC Lens. Alphonse is doing good things, this year he is playing in the Premier League, he is gaining serenity and is performing well. Hierarchy is good when it's defined. But it can change in March or June. Competition exists, so I think it's better to do things differently...
Has Kingsley Coman taken a step forward and do you see him as a starter?
If he scores more goals, good for him, he's decisive, it's better for him, it hasn't always been the case. It gives him confidence, it frees him. Kingsley has the potential to start, like others. We are fortunate to have several players who are capable of starting and confident. In this position, whether it's Kingsley or Ousmane (Dembélé), the opposing defenders are not smiling.
Will Antoine Griezmann add an 84th consecutive game to his winning streak?
Yes, I'll make him continue his streak, even if he only has to play thirty seconds, he'll count one more game.
Do you expect to have as many difficulties as you did in the first leg with your 1-0 win?
The first leg had been difficult. There is quality in this team. Offensively, there's a lot of aggressiveness. We only won 1-0. The Greek public is going to be fully behind it. They're preparing for March, for them it's an important game, I know they're not going to watch us play. It's going to be a high-level game.