15th June, 2012
A relative newcomer to the France squad, right-back Mathieu Debuchy told UEFA.com about the heat in Ukraine, his understanding with Samir Nasri and coming up against Andriy Shevchenko.
There was a clear sense of relief on the Donbass Arena pitch when the final whistle blew. Neither France nor England had managed to find a winning goal, yet the players seemed pleased to have got through the Group D contest in such stifling conditions.
It was not just the soaring temperatures that had made life difficult – humidity levels were also uncomfortably high. “Even the slightest effort brought about a lot of tiredness,” Les Bleus defender Mathieu Debuchy told UEFA.com.
Not that the marauding LOSC Lille Métropole right-back strayed from his usual habits. Debuchy is renowned for his fierce determination, his surging runs up the flank and his supreme fitness. On Monday, despite the searing heat, he was typically dynamic, defending with vigour and combining neatly with Samir Nasri on the many occasions he burst upfield.
Both coaches rung the changes in the latter stages – the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Scott Parker notably making way having run themselves in to the ground – yet Debuchy never showed any signs of flagging. “My legs feel OK,” he said the next day. “We’ve got everything we need to recover from the matches, so, really, it’s fine.”
It is not certain every player was feeling quite as fresh as Debuchy. The 26-year-old never seems to run out of energy – despite the fact he is preparing to appear in his 50th game of the season, against Ukraine, on Friday – and he will not be using the climate as an excuse should France fall short. “It’s really hot,” he said. “At pitch level, the air doesn’t circulate, so it’s not easy.
But we’re getting used to it.
We train in these conditions and we’re adapting well.”