This time, no Kylian Mbappé. Ahead of the final Euro 2024 qualifier against Greece on Tuesday, it was Adrien Rabiot who appeared in front of the press half an hour late due to the difficult traffic in Athens. "Excuse us," the press chief said. Then the Juve and Les Bleus midfielder, who scored against Gibraltar (14-0), went on to comment, commenting extensively on his growing status within the national team. He also made sure to point out that if successful, Les Bleus could secure the top spot in the FIFA rankings by the end of the year.
Are Les Bleus better than at the World Cup?
ADRIEN RABIOT. I don't know. It's a continuation of what we've done well. We are serious, determined in every game, we proved it again on Saturday (Editor's note: against Gibraltar, 14-0). In the game, I don't know. We'll have to compare it to another big competition. The group is on a roll.
Is it a match that you are apprehensive about so as not to get injured?
It's always complicated, it's a period when you play a lot. This has been the case for many seasons. I also noticed that at this time of November there were often more injuries. But, the best way not to get injured, I think, is to play hard, not to hold back.
How do you motivate yourself when you're already qualified and seeded?
I have the motivation every time I step on the pitch. There are challenges that we set ourselves, such as finishing with maximum points in these qualifications. We know that if we win or do better than Argentina, we will finish first in the FIFA rankings. That's the kind of goal we have in mind.
Are you more of a balance player or a projection player?
I've already said at the World Cup that I define myself more as a balance player. I don't have the same role at Juve where I'm more of a projection player. I won't go back on that, my role in the France team is more of a balancing role in the team.
Coming to a press conference is a task that usually falls to executives. Do you enjoy exercise?
Not necessarily. I won't go so far as to say that I enjoy the exercise. It doesn't bother me, I do it with pleasure, seriousness and professionalism. It can be part of the team's role as a manager to have to appear in front of you, to answer questions, it's a certain mark of confidence as well.
"I'm more of a grassroots leader"
Will you be captain on Tuesday, and does this leadership role push you to open up more?
On the question of captaincy, I have no idea. Honestly, I don't think so. Then, in terms of my personality, my character, I'm a very open person outside of the media and social networks, whether it's with my family, my friends, people from outside. I do it naturally. For the rest, I prefer to remain reserved, it's my choice.
Do you see yourself as a leader of the team?
In my own way, yes, I think I am. But we can all be in our own way, I think. Not necessarily outside, in the media. I'm more of a leader on the pitch, I'm also a leader in the intimacy of the dressing room, being able to discuss, give advice. You need different personalities for a group to work well.
Have you given up on playing with Paul Pogba again and how is he doing?
On what's going to happen with Paul (Pogba), I don't have anything to tell you. I don't know what will happen with him. We talk, we've seen each other in the national team, we're going to have dinner together. Paul is very friendly, I think the situation weighs on him. I hope for his sake that the sanction will be the least difficult. We're all dejected because he's a great player, a great man and to have to face everything he's had to face in the last few weeks, these months, and even the last few years, it's a lot. We're all with him.