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“Does the French team have a soul? »

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To prepare my pre-match chat with the players, I admit I struggled to find an original idea. My objective was clear. Not to let ourselves be intoxicated by our great victory against Australia, not to fall into euphoria, overconfidence or even complacency. Don’t let us get caught up in the triumphant delirium of the fans who incense us as quickly as they lynch us. One day princes, the next go barefoot. It was therefore necessary to provoke an electric shock, a mental slap, to remind my troupe that they were nothing but a bunch of kids in search of an epic. No more no less. 2018? It was an eternity ago, a time before the Covid. Since then, the time clock has erased everything. It was therefore necessary to bring them back to this harsh reality, to zero time, to this fight of titans where they are not the favorites. And, to convince them of this outsider status, it was necessary to forget for a moment his crampons, his adductors, his leg crossings, his triangle game, and deal with an invisible material, infinitely more difficult to manipulate than the calf, quadriceps or hamstring: the soul.

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I know, I’m stepping forward, I’m taking a risk. I play the ominous birds. But we had to get back to basics, the base, the base: nothing is gained without an extra soul, without this miracle of the bond that is forged between beings during a common adventure, whether it be sporting, cultural, or political. However, for this high-risk match, I had a big problem to solve. Our adversary, in this area, had an advantage over us: he already had his extra soul. And a huge one. Its players have indeed sealed a magic pact around their captain, Christian Eriksen, Manchester United player, saved from a heart attack in the middle of a match, a year and a half earlier, returned from the dead, resuscitated by an army physiotherapists, physiotherapists, and by the unfailing friendship of its footballing partners. They made it an indestructible icon. A myth. These Vikings, disciples of Luther, beyond being a balanced, very playful team, are therefore carried by a weapon of mass destruction: a form of mystique of victory. Eriksen has somehow entered into a category of his own. He was sanctified during his lifetime. Saint Christian wears the number 10 of Denmark and makes millimeter centers, as if carried by a celestial hand.

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What could I tell my players, these Game Boy fans, repeat selfies, these laboratory athletes, gifted, prepared for all the races, all the shocks, all the tackles, so as not to fall into the trap of Saint Christian, to speak to them of their own soul, that little thing, that will-o’-the-wisp floating above the stadiums which creates great destinies? I then immersed myself in the tale of Andersen, “the Little Mermaid”, this legend born from the spirit of the Danish writer who populated so many children’s dreams. I have, of course, simplified, advanced in broad strokes. I went to the essentials. The Little Mermaid, therefore, by getting closer to the universe of men, discovers that they are mortal, but that they have something unique: their soul is eternal. You have a soul, dear Blues! It’s up to you to transcend it. The battle against Denmark will be won on this ground, and not elsewhere, I launched, prophetically. Everyone listened to me, captivated, taken aback by the appearance of a Scandinavian naiad at the heart of their mental preparation, doubtless wondering if I had been marabouted by who knows what charlatan hanging around in our football circles. My own staff watched me for a while, wondering about the effectiveness of this quasi-cerebral coaching. The French team in search of its soul? Yes, but still put the crampons back on…

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