Veteran defender Patrice Evra has warned France team-mates Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann to expect to bear the brunt of criticism if Euro 2016 ends in failure.
Tournament hosts France are among the favourites as they look to repeat their home-field success of the 1998 World Cup – with Juventus midfielder Pogba and Atletico Madrid striker Griezmann the side’s leading lights.
Griezmann particularly has entered the spotlight as a result of Karim Benzema’s international exile, but Evra believes the Real Madrid man’s absence will only heap pressure on those who remain.
“It’s easy to say that they are phenomenal but people are expecting a lot from them,” Evra told Journal du Dimanche.
“I warned them: Karim is not with us anymore, and if things go badly, they will get the stick.
“They have incredible talent, but football is 10 per cent talent, 90 per cent mental.”
Euro 2016 will be Evra’s fifth major tournament – and at 35, likely his last – leaving the left-back determined to lift the trophy – as well as atone for previous years of disappointment, no less the 2010 World Cup, overshadowed by a player mutiny led by Evra against coach Raymond Domenech.
“I cannot end my career without winning anything with my country,” he added. “I want to be a winner all the way.
“The 2014 World Cup was OK but I have not had a good time after, because I thought we were going the win.
“OK, it has restored the image of the France team, we needed to after all that happened in 2010 in particular. But we must become a nation that wins.”