Youssouf Fofana: “I feel Kylian Mbappé very calm” before England-France

Youssouf Fofana:

How do you feel about the group two days before the quarter-final against England on Saturday?

I feel like it since the start of the competition: determined as the matches approach while making allowances, while keeping this carefree side. But always ready to prepare for the match and to play.

How do you see the historic Franco-British rivalry?
It’s a geographical rivalry, it’s a bit like our neighbours. It’s a great team, they have incredible individualities. We see them constantly progressing, it will be a good match to play.

Kyle Walker returned at length on Wednesday to his duel with Kylian Mbappé. He said he knew how to handle it: didn’t he talk too much?
It’s all to his credit if he knows how to stop Kylian, in the meantime, there are 19 teams still waiting for the solution in L 1. And others in the Champions League (laughs). We all trust him.

“Bellingham is a midfielder that has been improving since the start of the season”

How do you view English midfielder Jude Bellingham?
I watch him often, it’s a midfielder that has been improving since the start of the season. He has passed a course in this club. There will be a nice duel with a young person who has also passed the course (he refers to Aurélien Tchouaméni).

What do you have to say to those who believe that the France team has a weaker bench than the English?
I answer that they have the right to give their opinion (laughs). It will be up to us to prove otherwise.

How do you judge Kylian Mbappé’s state of mind?
Kylian is a person who does not watch the press, sorry for you (laughs). He concentrates on his game, on what he has to do, on what the team has to do. I feel very calm and very determined.

Tell us about the atmosphere in the locker room before the game.
There is some music yes. We are entitled to our helmets. There is the activation room where we meet 30-40 minutes before going out on the lawn. Some need to pedal, others to touch the ball.

How do you judge the support of French supporters in Qatar?
I did not expect so many French supporters, we hear them well. We need them at times, we hear them, it’s great. No disrespect to my club, I play in a club where there are not many supporters, it does not bother anyone. If there’s not enough for you, that’s no excuse.

“The most experienced give us freedom of expression”

How do you judge the midfielder of the Blues?
It’s a very solid environment. In three players, there is everything that is grouped together, there is the player who can take the depth, the player who can solicit in the feet, the player who can make the others play. We really have everything, it’s a complete environment.

You haven’t scored from set pieces since the end of March. Why ?
We don’t work badly on set pieces. We come across teams that are not bad either. We have snipers as strikers. We have leading players with size or players like Jules (Kounde) who have great timing. We just lack that luck factor.

How is group life organized between the oldest and the youngest?
The most experienced leave us freedom of expression. They are not on our backs 24/24, it arouses respect. So when they tell us A, everyone does A. And then if a youngster does B, they tell him the next time, you do A. He’s not going to yell at him right away.

Aurélien Tchouaméni has a more restrictive role in Blues than in Real Madrid: how do you judge his tournament?
We play in a football show. When a player doesn’t do something spectacular, he looks like he’s right there on the pitch. But Aurélien does exceptional work behind the scenes. He really runs a lot. This allows the other two environments (Rabiot and Griezmann) to project oneself without asking questions. I find that his work is not valued enough. Since the start of the competition, he has been very consistent.