Hugo Lloris has warned France the Republic of Ireland will be more intent on making their name at Euro 2016 by dumping the hosts out of the competition than exorcising the ghost of Thierry Henry.
The two sides meet in the last 16 in Lyon on Sunday almost seven years after Henry’s handball at the Stade de France broke Irish hearts and denied them a place at the 2010 World Cup finals.
Both camps have sought to play down talk of revenge despite intense media coverage – the 2009 World Cup play-off second leg was shown in its entirety on French television on Friday night – and France skipper Lloris, who played in the game, insisted Ireland would have bigger fish to fry.
He said: “I don’t know if the Irish are necessarily out for revenge. That’s part of history, that’s in the past.
“Tomorrow’s fixture is part of the European Championships at home and we have noticed since the start of the tournament, we are a little bit the team to beat. That does give the opposition added motivation to try and bring down the host nation.
“That is no doubt going to be another aim for the Irish, but we’re not focussed on that at all, we’re preparing very calmly on our side of things and tomorrow we need to make sure that we are ready for the battle.”
A controversial 1-1 draw in St Denis that night secured France’s passage after a 1-0 win in Dublin in the first leg, but the Republic were the better side on the night.
However, Lloris denied there was over-confidence in 2009 and insisted there would be none on Sunday either as the possibility of a quarter-final clash with either England or Iceland looms.
He said: “If I’m honest, I don’t think we are over-confident at all. We have a lot of respect for the Republic of Ireland. We have been able to watch them on video. Despite the second half against Belgium, they have shown a lot of good stuff against Sweden and especially against Italy.
“They are perhaps even a little bit more excited because they went through in the last few minutes against Italy. They are where they are. I think they are very motivated, but we will also be up for it too.”
Whatever the result, it is likely to be a landmark day for Lloris, who will captain his country for a record 55th time, in the process overtaking the total managed by his manager Didier Deschamps.
Lloris said: “Of course it’s nice, but to be honest at this moment in time, I’m more focussed on competition as a whole and what matters for me and my team-mates is to try to go as far as possible in the European Championships.
“I have no desire at all to compare myself to Didier Deschamps, what he might have represented as a player or captain, nor indeed Michel Platini. Football evolves, as do people’s mentalities.”
When asked about the feat, Deschamps joked: “Maybe. He could play, but he might not be captain. I ultimately am the one in charge.”
But any celebrations will have to wait with Deschamps warning his players they will have a major battle on their hands against Martin O’Neill’s side.
He said: “They’ve got a lot of heart, they work hard, but it’s not just that. There are some good footballers within the team.
“The large majority of them play in the Premier League, they are used to playing against the top English sides.
“There are lots of good footballers like [Glenn] Whelan, [Jeff] Hendrick, [Wes] Hoolahan if he plays, [Robbie] Brady, [James] McCarthy, Shane Long – these are all players that play consistently at Premier League level, so they know what top-level football is all about.”