Euro 2024: “France is scary”, “one of the most complete Portugals in history”, former Montpellier Pedro Mendes sets the scene for the quarter-final

Euro 2024: “France is scary”, “one of the most complete Portugals in history”, former Montpellier Pedro Mendes sets the scene for the quarter-final

Pedro Mendes craint l'équipe de France. Midi Libre – JEAN MICHEL MART

Montpellier player for six years (2017-2023), Portuguese international (1 selection), Pedro Mendes deciphers the future opponent of the French team before the quarter-final, Friday July 5 (21). hours).

What did you think when you found out that Portugal and France would face each other in the quarter-finals?< /p>

It made me come back to Euro 2016. But, it’s true, it’s been a long time and things have obviously changed.

Doesn't such a poster bring childhood memories to the surface, like the hand of Abel Xavier in 2000?

Yes, Abel Xavier. I remember it because I lived through that moment. I was little, I wanted Portugal to win. And in the back of my mind, there was this dream: "I would love to be there one day". In the same place as Abel Xavier or another player. That’s every kid’s dream.

But the supporters no longer think about this moment. They only think about the 2016 final. Obviously, it's the most recent. And what's more, we come out champion, that's necessarily the image that remains.

After having “discovered the pleasure”, Pedro Mendes “ready for anything” in his quest for a club

Seriously injured &agrav; a knee in April  2021, Pedro Mendes ended up leaving Montpellier HSC à summer 2023."Two years of struggle", he said, marked by only two appearances in Ligue 1, before the conclusion of six seasons in Hérault (115 matches between 2017 and 2023). The rebound finally arrived in the country. In Portugal, the defender was able to play again under the colors of Estrela Amadora, a local L1 club located in Barcelona. in the suburbs of Lisbon. Positive feedback from his family and on the pitch with thirteen matches, including two with the armband. "The most important thing is that the pleasure wasé found, personally and collectively with the maintenance", he rejoices. "When the head is well, everything is well". &At 33, the former Rennes player is now looking for a club. And he has no limits. "I have already spent eleven years of my career abroad. &Citil;I don't mind packing my bags again. I'm ready for anything", he assures. The end will have to wait. “I'll stop when I decide to. That's the challenge I set myself when I left Montpellier.”

For a long time, for the Portuguese, wasn't coming across the French team in competition a bit of a curse ?

It wasn’t that, it was that it’s always difficult to face France. In fact, anything can happen in these matches. I was talking about it with friends, about the memory of Cristiano Ronaldo's injury during the 2016 final. The French said to themselves: "Cristiano does not not going to finish the match. Maybe it will be easier and we will win". Conversely, the Portuguese players said to themselves that they were going to win, even without Cristiano.

Today, all that is far away, the contexts are different, we have different players, you too. But since Euro 2016, we have looked at Portugal as a nation that we do not want to face because it is capable of winning.

Exactly, what changed this 2016 title for Portugal ?

The players in this final are seen as legends. Eder, who was not appreciated for his characteristics before, everyone sees him as an idol now. Obviously, it changed everything for him and for us, the people, for everyone.

France is tough. Everyone knows it in Portugal.

Is there a favorite before the meeting ?

France is the favorite, because it is vice-world champion. At every international tournament since 2016, you have been a finalist or winner. It’s still scary, there’s respect. France must still be respected. We beat her in the final and so now we know how it's going to go? No, no, not at all. It’s tough. Everyone in Portugal knows it.

Portugal gave itself a scare by qualifying on penalties against Slovenia. Is the dynamic positive ?

We can't compare. It’s different from facing France, Spain or Germany. The requirement is different. France will want to have the ball, Portugal too. It will be 50-50 but the concentration of the players will be maximum.

Portugal is with Ronaldo a bit like Argentina at the World Cup with Messi.

What is the main strength of the Seleçao?

It’s a bit like Argentina at the World Cup with Messi. The players wanted to do everything for him to win this World Cup, this title that he was missing. For Cristiano, they know it's almost the end. We saw him with his tears. He is more focused on the team. And there is cohesion. This force can take us far.

Apart from Ronaldo, who is the other key player in this selection ?

I like Vitinha. Our match passes through him. And we also have a war tank (sic), Palhinha. He’s a guy who goes all out, gives his all, attacks in every direction. In a team, you need a guy like that. Then I like Pepe, who never disappoints, and Diogo Costa, who is in good form. We have a lot of individual quality. But everyone needs to be inspired.

Would you say that this Portugal is the strongest in history on paper ?

On paper, yes. One of the most complete. The replacements are at the level of the starters. And apart from Matheus Nunes (Manchester City) or Gonçalo Ramos (PSG), they are all starters in their club.

Even if I vibrated a lot with Rui Costa, Figo, Simão, Helder Postiga, Nuno Gomes, Joao Pinto, perhaps the current team is stronger on the paper.

I'm hoping for an open match.

How is the atmosphere in the country around the selection ?

When you don't beat a team like Slovenia 3-0, with the players we have, and you go to penalties, there is criticism, it's cultural. Everyone criticizes the tactics, the players, whatever.

But the Portuguese players are already used to that. Even when we were champions in 2016, it was like that. And in the end, the same people who criticized, they applauded. It's football, it's the environment, that's how it is.

But if you win France, they'll say we're the best, that we'll be European champions again. That's how it is.

What's your prediction for this match??

I don't have one. Because you have to respect the history of France, the players on this team. But I hope for an open match, not the typical match where both teams respect each other. For the atmosphere, and for the show, I hope it will be open. And that at the end, we can laugh, have fun, like during the Euro 2016 final (laughs).

I subscribe to read the rest

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(function(d,s){d.getElementById("licnt2061").src= ";r"+escape(d.referrer)+ ((typeof(s)=="undefined")?"":";s"+s.width+"*"+s.height+"*"+ (s.colorDepth?s.colorDepth:s.pixelDepth))+";u"+escape(d.URL)+ ";h"+escape(d.title.substring(0,150))+";"+Math.random()}) (document,screen)