UEFA.com: How well can friendlies prepare the team for the EURO?
Eliaquim Mangala: It's important to take these matches seriously as they give the coach the chance to see who he might take to the EURO. There are advantages and disadvantages. In friendlies you can completely change the team from one match to the next, which you might not do in qualifying.
You do miss that competitive spirit, because you're much more focused in a game that's worth three points; but at the same time, you can see what the whole squad can do. The closer we get to June, the greater the pressure will be in these friendlies as the tournament fast approaches.
UEFA.com: There are many promising young talents in the France squad, with yourself, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Raphaël Varane and Anthony Martial. What qualities do they bring to the team?
Mangala: We're lucky to have a lot of youngsters who are already playing at a very high level for big clubs. It looks good for the years ahead.
Rafa [Varane] has been at Real Madrid for quite a while now and he's still young. It's the same story for Paul. Antoine has been around for slightly less time, but he's performing very well for Atlético. All these things can only benefit the national team.
UEFA.com: With the pressure of hosting a major tournament coming up, how important is it to have a coach in Didier Deschamps who's been there and done it, winning the World Cup on home soil?
Mangala: He had a fantastic career and knows all about success. He was captain of the World Cup-winning side in 1998, so he knows what it's like to be part of a group. And that was in France, so it's similar to what's coming up at the EUROs.
That's a benefit because you can say whatever you want but if you haven't experienced it, it isn't the same. He's already been through it and when the time comes he'll have the right words for us. He will know how to do things so that we're in the best possible condition.
UEFA.com: What are your memories of the 1998 World Cup?
Mangala: I remember Lilian Thuram's double [in the semis against Croatia], but of course the best memory is the final against Brazil which we won 3-0 thanks to Zizou's two goals. It's a memory that's engraved in French minds forever. Outside France, too. If you mention 1998, people think about Zizou's two goals and France-Brazil – it wasn't any old final.
UEFA.com: What can supporters in France next summer expect?
Mangala: They can expect plenty of passion and a very good atmosphere. French supporters will look to recreate what they did at the 2014 World Cup. They were in Brazil in force and we could feel their support. During every match, we really knew they were there.
They'll be even hungrier; now they want even more. They'll be more demanding, but the good thing is that when we go out on to the pitch, the other team will know the crowd is behind us, an added motivation.
You don't play in the EUROs on home soil every day. And it's the same for the fans.
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