France coach Didier Deschamps does not want the big-match build-up to consume his players ahead of the Euro 2016 opener against Romania.
Deschamps’ men will play their first competitive fixture for almost two years before an expectant home crowd at the Stade de France on Friday.
Saint-Denis was the scene of their glorious triumph over Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final and, having also won this trophy on home soil in 1984, Deschamps has a squad brimming with enough talent and promise to convince the natives that history might be set to repeat itself once more.
But the former Juventus midfielder, who captained France the last time they were champions of Europe in 2000, believes his players would be unwise to buy into the hype ahead of a game that should set their pulses racing of its own accord.
“I’m not really looking at 1998. It was so long ago,” said the veteran of 103 caps. “I wasn’t in the same uniform, I don’t have the same role.
“Each player experiences these matches in a different fashion. What’s important is you mustn’t focus too early and try to play the game before it actually begins.
“Everything that comes before mustn’t influence our mindset as we go out on the field tomorrow night.
“You need to just have these butterflies in your stomach before an important game because we haven’t achieved anything yet.
“We need to get into that mindset without looking at any permutations – without pressure, without feeling fragility.
“We mustn’t make a mountain out of a molehill. We need to distance ourselves from [the hype]. It’s not going to affect our preparations. We’ve been preparing for two years for Friday, June 10.”
Rather than past glories, Deschamps highlighted the 2014 World Cup play-off win over Ukraine – when his team came back from a 2-0 first-leg deficit to triumph 3-2 overall on a stirring night in Paris – as a feat that can continue to galvanise his team.
They bowed out at the quarter-final stage in Brazil against eventual winners Germany and the 47-year-old concedes a solid diet of friendly matches thereafter leaves some questions unanswered.
“France haven’t played any competitive matches for two years now,” Deschamps said. “Once again we are going to experience that again tomorrow.
“It isn’t the same playing staff now as two years ago so to talk about what our strengths were then and now, to compare them is difficult.
“I think I have a side with very exciting attacking potential. Clearly in a big competition you need to be able to strike the right balance and defend well.
“Throughout our recent friendly matches we focused on having an effective defensive block.”
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