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How does team France chill before a big match?

  • Published at 03:52 pm June 30th, 2018
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France's goalkeaper Hugo Lloris grabs a ball during a training session in Istra, west of Moscow on June 27, 2018, during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament AFP

Captain and main goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is an old school kind of guy: he plays scrabble on his phone

France has a big match today. The players are poised for the match against Argentina in the knockout round. How do they relax before such a crucible?

France’s number three goalkeeper shoots hoops at a basketball arcade game installed in the French base camp. The Parisian's record is an astonishing 163 points.

No one has been able to get close to him, not even Antoine Griezmann or Paul Pogba – the other two NBA fanatics in the squad. 

According to report by ESPN, Griezmann has installed his PlayStation 4 in his hotel room and hosts Fifa’18 tournaments all the time when the squad are not training - Kylian Mbappe and the host himself are usually the winners. However, when it comes down to Fortnite (the other video game Les Bleus are mad about, alongside Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch), Griezmann is unbeatable, except perhaps Adil Rami who also excels at it.

For a long time, Griezmann was also the boss at Football Manager, the football management simulation game. It is usually in Pogba's bedroom that the fans of the game gather: Blaise Matuidi is doing well at the moment with Liverpool, who he has taken to the Champions League final; Ousmane Dembele is managing Arsenal. For the record, Griezmann plays with Villarreal rather than his club Atletico Madrid.

A boy holds a French flag as he came to watch the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between Denmark and France at a fan zone in Riedisheim, eastern France, on June 26, 2018 AFP

Outside of his midfield duties, Pogba has two big roles in France's squad and they both have nothing to do with football.

The first is to provide a barber. He has already flown in his personal one, Ahmed Alsanawi, three times from London since the beginning of the tournament. Alsanawi was last in Moscow on Thursday, and when he comes he also looks after Mbappe, Djibril Sidibe, Benjamin Mendy or Presnel Kimpembe.

The second is to be the main DJ of the squad. Whether it is French rappers (Keblack, Maitre Gims, Naza), US hip hop artists (Drake, Kendrick Lamar, DJ Khaled), latin trap, reggaeton, or some more eclectic stuff, Pogba knows it all and plays it all.

Away from the video games and music, the older guys in the squad also have things to take their minds off the pressure of a World Cup.

Captain and main goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is an old school kind of guy: he plays scrabble on his phone, like striker Olivier Giroud, and is very good at boules, also like Giroud.

However, neither can come close to beating coach Didier Deschamps – who is unbeaten so far in this World Cup. Deschamps has little downtime but, when he does, he likes reading Tal Ben-Shaham's best seller "Choose the life you want." In fact, he has given the book to each of his players.

Not that many would have finished reading it though. In general the squad prefer movies or TV series. “Black Panther” for Rami; "La casa de papel" and "El Chapo" for Kimpembe who is making the most of his Netflix subscription; Lucas Hernandez, one of the most sociable players in the squad, also likes "Vikings."

There are also host of players who like to play cards. Hernandez, Florian Thauvin, Thomas Lemar, Nabil Fekir and N'Golo Kante, mostly play Uno. But Perudo, the dice game where you bluff your opponents, is very popular.

Argentina wait in the round of 16 on Saturday and to deal with the threat of Lionel Messi and company, France will benefit from being as relaxed as possible.

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