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France keeping feet on ground ahead of World Cup final

Moscow (AFP) – France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said the World Cup favourites are shutting out the mounting excitement at home as they focus on one final push against Croatia.

Tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of Paris following Tuesday’s semi-final win over Belgium and confidence is high that Didier Deschamps’ team can match the achievement of the 1998 winners.

L’Equipe’s Saturday magazine supplement even came with a front cover photo of crowds on the Champs-Elysees avenue. “See you tomorrow,” read the caption.

Deschamps’ side are strongly fancied to win Sunday’s final but lessons from the recent past — including defeat to Portugal in the final of Euro 2016 — ensure they are not getting carried away ahead of the match in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

“To be honest with you, we are in our bubble,” said goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris.

“Of course we know what’s happening in France, all the more so after seeing all the images after the Belgium game.

“But tomorrow we will be coming up against opponents of great quality. They deserve to be in the final just as much as us. They have demonstrated their worth and that they have the physical and mental resources to go and win it.”

Two years ago, France lost in the Euro 2016 final at home after beating world champions Germany in the semi-final.

“At the Euro it was something new for the whole team. It is true that we experienced a great night at the Velodrome against the reigning world champions,” said Lloris.

“But I don’t think it’s true that we got carried away, even if there was a lot of euphoria. And that was not the case after the Belgium game.”

Deschamps, who was captain of the side that won the 1998 World Cup in France, also said the side were keeping their feet on the floor.

“There is no euphoria. I don’t feel it anyway,” he said. “We are satisfied to be there, and we are aware that it is the biggest match of the year.” 

Most of the French squad in Russia were not even playing at Euro 2016, with Kylian Mbappe the symbol of the new generation that emerged following that disappointment.

Mbappe tore apart Argentina in France’s 4-3 win in the last 16 in Russia, before they proved too strong for Uruguay in the quarter-finals and Belgium in the last four.

“Today’s squad is different. Fourteen of them were not there at the Euros. There is less experience, but there is quality,” said Deschamps, who is wary of a Croatian side led by the brilliant Luka Modric.

“Croatia’s players have gained experience with their clubs, and they have been playing together for a while. 

“But in practically all of our matches since the competition began we have been faced with this idea that our opponents have more experience.”

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