December 21, 2018 / 12:35 PM / 6 months ago

Soccer-World Cup winners France organised yet unexciting, says Xavi

BARCELONA, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Former Spain and Barcelona midfielder Xavi has said France’s World Cup triumph this year left him feeling “unenthusiastic” due to their style of play.

Didier Deschamps’ side, containing the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba, beat Croatia 4-2 in an action-packed final in Moscow after beating Argentina 4-3 in the tournament’s stand-out game in the last 16.

They also saw off Uruguay and Belgium on their way to the final.

Yet their performances left Xavi, one of the heroes of Spain’s 2010 World Cup win and a four-times Champions League winner with Barca, unimpressed.

“All France say to me is that they are the champions,” Xavi said in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca published on Friday.

“They are an organised team, not very exciting, but they have a lot of qualities. They work hard, they counterattack like rockets, you have Griezmann and Mbappe running back to defend. That’s fine, but it doesn’t make me feel enthusiastic.”

Xavi, who is seeing out his career in Qatar with Al Sadd and has said repeatedly he intends to become a coach when he retires from playing, also criticised the short-term attitudes of coaches at World Cups.

“In a World Cup coaches are more practical because they are scared of being knocked out. You make one error, and ‘ciao’,” he added.

“I’m of a different school of thought, believing you should always try to have the ball and take risks but 70-80 percent of teams in a World Cup don’t take risks and they wait for a chance to score. It’s a shame. The result is what justifies the means and convinces fans, but it doesn’t convince me.” (Reporting by Richard Martin Editing by Toby Davis)

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