RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil (AP) — France defender Mamadou Sakho and his teammates will be filled with "rage" when they take on Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Not because they have anything personal against the Germans, but because they are still feeling the anger and desperation after barely qualifying for the tournament in Brazil.
Sakho has been France's vice captain since the second leg of the World Cup playoffs against Ukraine. With the team trailing 2-0 after a dire performance in Kiev, Sakho scored in a 3-0 win, and his passionate performance sparked a remarkable turnaround.
Since then, France is unbeaten in eight games and has kept six clean sheets.
"Of course I still have the rage inside me from that game," the Liverpool defender said Wednesday. "We all have a little bit of that rage inside of us."
France is vastly more inexperienced than Germany, which has reached at least the semifinals of each major competition since the 2008 European Championship. By contrast, France is rebuilding and has not reached any semifinal since the 2006 World Cup.
But several fresh talents have revamped the national team — which only has two regular starters older than 29.
"We're a very young team with new players," Sakho said. "We've instilled a new spirit into the team — off the pitch, first of all — and it reflects on the pitch.
"We know that Germany is a big team, a big football nation," Sakho added. "But we're also very good and I believe in us."
At 24 years old, Sakho is the oldest of France's new generation and has played 22 times for his country. He was rested against Nigeria after failing to shake of a left hamstring injury but is fit again to face Germany on Friday at Maracana Stadium.
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