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Makelele braced for extra workload in French midfield without Vieira at Euro 2008

Makelele braced for extra workload in French midfield without Vieira at Euro 2008

Veteran midfielder Claude Makelele will have more work than usual without Patrick Vieira beside him when France opens its European Championship campaign against Romania on Monday.
The 35-year-old Chelsea midfielder, who already tried to retire after the World Cup two years ago, will have the tough task of holding France's midfield together against a quick, young team that loves to attack.
Still, he is confident there's enough in the tank to face Romania, Netherlands and Italy in the space of nine days.
"I've done it with my club, I don't see why I wouldn't be able to do with the French team," Makelele said Friday.
Makelele found himself playing intense matches every few days when Chelsea was trying for a league and cup double, before losing both competitions to Manchester United.
With Vieira out of the Romania match with a small left thigh tear, Domenech trusts Makelele to hold the team together.
"(Makelele) has the advantage of several years and big tournaments behind him," Domenech said. "He has a lot of experience, he keeps things stabile."
Even though Makelele is at an age where he needs to conserve energy as much as possible, Domenech is unlikely to give him much rest.
"In a cup (competition), you can leave very early if you change things around," Domenech said.
Makelele, who has 68 caps, is likely to play with Lyon's Jeremy Toulalan against Romania in Zurich, but is confident he could adapt to whatever formation Domenech puts in place.
"We can play with two or three midfielders in front of the defense," Makelele said. "Whether I play with Pat, Jeremy or Lassana (Diarra) does not really make a difference."
Domenech asks his defensive midfielders to do two things well: win the ball and release it with a quick pass.
"We rely on our qualities," Makelele said. "A strong defensive base, physical impact and moving into attack very quickly. This is what we have managed to do since the World Cup."
At the 2006 World Cup, Makelele did most of his work to make sure Zinedine Zidane had the freedom he needed to shine.
But with the mercurial playmaker now retired and leaving Les Bleus going into a major tournament without him for the first time since Euro 92, France relies far more on teamwork.
"Zizou was the boss," Makelele said. "Now he is no longer here, there will always be others who become the leaders of the team."


Updated : 2021-05-14 04:21 GMT+08:00