Australia’s captain at the last World Cup, Matt Ryan, realized that France’s top players were all human and told his young players to respect the world champions without fearing him when the two teams meet on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper Ryan, who is playing in the World Cup for the third time, defended Australia’s goal in its opening match in the 2018 finals, when it lost 2-1 to France, in a match that was decided by Paul Pogba’s deflected shot nine minutes before the end.
Ryan recalled in the press conference the last match, and said before the confrontation that will bring them together in the fourth group: We came close to achieving a great result there in Russia against France, but luck ran out.
He added: The thing I learned on this day is that you have to respect the opponent as much as is appropriate, and not be afraid of him or be confused too much. Tomorrow we will play against some great players in a strong team, but we are all human, and we know that we have a good chance to win.
Coach Graham Arnold said he also tried to do his duty to calm his players by not mentioning the names of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, or even the name of the opposing team.
He said: This does not mean disrespect at all. But I didn’t mention the word France or say the names of the players, because my team knows very well the value of the opposing team’s names. It’s a one-on-one match, ten players wearing blue shirts against ten players wearing yellow uniforms, it’s a battle and that’s what it will be.