'England not strong enough in the head' - Gallas backing France for World Cup glory

England knocked out of Euro 2016 after losing to Iceland
The former Les Bleus defender thinks the Three Lions have no chance in Russia but he is backing his countrymen to win the tournament

William Gallas believes that France are major contenders to win the 2018 World Cup, but has already written off the possibility of England reaching the latter stages of the competition.

France boast a frightening array of attacking talent which includes the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Thomas Lemar.

England, meanwhile, have continually disappointed at major tournaments, and Gallas is expecting Gareth Southgate's men to struggle with the pressure once again, while the former Arsenal and Tottenham defender places France next to Brazil, Spain and Germany as favourites to reach the final in Russia.

“I will go for Brazil because they look like they are really strong,” Gallas told Goal in response to who will be the favourites for the tournament. “For me, Brazil look very strong in every part of their line-up.

"You still have teams like Spain, Germany, France and I am sorry, I don’t say England because it is always the same problem with England.

“They are not strong. They are not strong enough in the head. That’s always a problem for them. I remember when we used to play against them and even in the European Championships in 2004, they had a strong, strong squad and they were leading 1-0, three minutes before the end of the game.

“But then we won 2-1, when I looked at that squad I thought ‘my God’. Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ledley King, Steven Gerrard, for me they were unbelievable, but they didn’t qualify I think for the quarter or semi-final. In the World Cup it was the same thing. This England have the same problem, they are not strong enough.

“Maybe [the shirt is too heavy]. Maybe they are also too young. They don’t have a lot of experience. I don’t know why it is so difficult for them to play in the national team. Maybe there is something wrong.

“I don’t know if there’s something wrong with the players, I would say maybe yes. But they also have to have the right manager.”

Gallas now works as SFR Sport’s Premier League pundit after a successful international career in which he earned 84 caps for Les Bleus and played in a World Cup final.

Olivier Giroud Didier Deschamps France

Didier Deschamps' side will face Australia, Peru and Denmark in the group stage, but Gallas believes the manager will struggle to select an XI, such is the talent in the country's squad.

“I want to know if France can win that World Cup,” Gallas added. “We have a good opportunity because we have got some great players, some talented players. It is a young squad. We are not afraid of any team, we know we can compete against anyone but when you play a World Cup, it is a different story.

“You have a lot of pressure on your shoulders. You are going to realise that you are playing in a World Cup, you can be very emotional and that’s why the players have to understand the World Cup is a completely different competition.

"I am sure the France squad can do the right job, the manager is good and he knows how to speak to his players. The players are very clever and intelligent to know what they have to do. That’s what’s very good about that group, you need to have a good relationship with your manager.

“The manager knows the World Cup very well because he won it in 1998. He used to be a player, he knows how the players can react so that’s why communication is very, very important. From when he was manager of the national team, he has had good results. The players like him because he understands them.

“We have got so many talented players. I wouldn’t want to be in the position of the French national manager because I don’t know how he can make that selection.

Kylian Mbappe Russia France Friendly 27032018.jpg

"If you look, at the back it is maybe a little bit easier to select players but in terms of midfielders and strikers, to be honest I wouldn’t want to be in his position. All of them are good, we have got so many good wingers and strikers. You don’t know which ones you would have to choose.”

France’s neighbours Belgium have a golden generation of their own with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku likely to line up for them in Russia. Gallas believes that Belgium can contend for the trophy but remain outsiders due to their inexperience.

“Yes, but Belgium, they let me down for the last competition,” he continued. “Euro 2016, they let me down. They had the same squad, maybe they didn’t have the experience that they had now. They let me down because everyone said Belgium has a great chance to win the Euros and it didn’t happen.

“Maybe for this World Cup, they will go to the final, because they have got great players. When you look at the players, all of them play in big clubs. They are unbelievable. When you don’t have experience in the big competitions, then sometimes you can have pressure.

“In 2006, we went to the final because we had some experienced players. Zidane was there, Vieira was there, Makelele was there, Henry was there. Barthez was there. For the younger players, it was good, because we didn’t have that pressure on our shoulders. The pressure was on the experienced players.

Article continues below


“So it was easy for us to do what we have to do, focus on our job. For example, I was playing with Lilian Thuram so I didn’t feel the pressure on my shoulders, because he was used to playing in many World Cups. For the Belgian squad, how many players have played in the World Cup? I don’t think a lot of players have played in it.

“That’s why I said when they have to play against the big teams, maybe it will be a little bit difficult for them.”