Lucas Hernandez, Kingsley Coman, Benjamin Pavard and Corentin Tolisso: the French quartet craving Champions League glory with Bayern Munich
If you want to be successful, join Bayern Munich. Coming from three World Cup winners who know what glory is all about, that is as good an endorsement as the record champions can get.
Benjamin Pavard, Corentin Tolisso and Lucas Hernandez will never forget 15 July, 2018. After lifting the coveted FIFA World Cup trophy into the Moscow night sky, not even a deluge of biblical flooding proportions could dampen their spirits.
A parade attracting millions to the Champs-Elysees, being feted like heroes, and it is easy to see how winning can become contagious. Fortunately for the aforementioned French trio, and their Bayern teammate Kingsley Coman, there is no other club able to satisfy their annual trophy fix like the Bavarians.
Watch: What makes World Cup-winner Benjamin Pavard so good?
"It's almost like you have an assurance here that you're going to extend your list of achievements and swell your trophy cabinet here," Pavard told L'Équipe. "I'd already lifted one title with VfB Stuttgart, having won Bundesliga 2, but Bayern…there's nothing better in Germany."
When the French full-back moved to Munich in 2019, he had added the World Cup to that Bundesliga 2 title, yet he was still relatively green in a dressing room filled with some of the most regaled footballers in the world.
Fellow Frenchman Franck Ribery picked up his record ninth Bundesliga title before departing in 2019, while Thomas Müller and David Alaba could reach that magical figure this season.
When Coman joined Bayern from Juventus in 2015, he already had two French Ligue 1 titles and a Serie A crown on his CV.
"But I was lacking the Champions League," he said. "We all came here to win that. Given the project and the style of play, Bayern offered me the best prospects, and Pep Guardiola was coach here when I arrived and that also had an influence.
"Bayern are a machine made to win trophies, like Juventus."
Indeed, Coman had already added four Bundesliga titles, two DFB Cups and three DFL Supercups before Hernandez arrived from Atletico Madrid last summer.
"I think that being at Bayern really does take all four of us onto another level," Hernandez said. "It's an opportunity to aim even higher. Personally, I want to win a first domestic title, with the Bundesliga, and the Champions League. I've already won the Europa League and European Super Cup with Atletico, and the World Cup with Les Bleus, and now Bayern can give me the rest."
After beating Chelsea 3-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, the last German club to lift the Champions League – in 2013 – are well on course for a quarter-final berth, where they would join Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig, Hernandez's former club Atletico, Paris Saint-Germain and Italian surprise package Atalanta.
Watch: Who is Lucas Hernandez?
The remaining four quarter-finalists will be determined further down the line, with the Coronavirus pandemic postponing football for the time being.
When business is resumed, Bayern's French quartet will get back to the only business they know: winning trophies, for club and country.
"We're competitors and we're always hungry," said Tolisso. "Winning is part of us, and Bayern have these characteristics too. And when you're playing in a big European club, it helps the French national team too. We're world champions and we want to confirm our status at the European Championship."
Whether the Euro will go ahead this summer or be delayed will be determined at an emergency meeting involving UEFA and European football's stakeholders on Tuesday.
Coman for one cannot wait for it to get started, though. "What annoys me the most is not missing the 2018 World Cup [through injury], but losing the Euro 2016 final to Portugal at the Stade de France. It's still stuck here (points to his throat).
"If I get the opportunity to be involved in the next Euro, I want to go all the way this time. I still haven't forgotten 2016: It's still very vivid. Furthermore, I've been playing for Les Bleus the longest out of us four, yet I'm the only one still without a trophy!"
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