World Cup One-on-One: Robert Pires and France

Former Arsenal and France midfielder Robert Pires talks about who he thinks will win the World Cup and which of his unstoppable teams was the best.

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 8:32 PM
Updated: Jun 5, 2018 8:35 PM

France's shock World Cup final win over Brazil in 1998 sparked wild celebrations across the country -- with the triumph hailed as a unifying force for French multiculturalism.

But just how good was the French team of 1998? If it has cemented its place in footballing history, for one member of that immortalized les bleus squad -- Robert Pirès -- a team from the English Premier League was stronger than the World Cup winners: Arsenal's "Invincibles."

The 2003-04 team earned the nickname after it went through the Premier League season undefeated -- with 26 wins and 12 draws. Its unbeaten run was eventually extended to 49 games, with Pires appearing in 40 of those matches, finding the back of the net 23 times.

"It was a privilege to play for my national team but the strongest (team I played for) was the Arsenal 'Invincibles' because it was very difficult, very hard -- firstly to win the Premier League, but if you win the Premier League unbeaten then of course that's an amazing record, " Pirès told CNN Sport in an interview in May.

READ: Your country needs you! The scramble for World Cup talent

For Pirès -- who had a distinguished 18-year footballing career and played for Arsenal from 2000 to 2006 -- former Gunners coach, Arsène Wenger, was one of the best managers he played under.

"Arsène Wenger is a real manager. It was a real privilege to work with him every morning, I learned a lot," said Pires, who was also a key member of the French team that won Euro 2000.

"He was like a second dad to me when I used to play for Arsenal. He was my mentor because I learned a lot about football (and) I think I reached my best level with Arsenal."

Arsenal's new chapter

Fourteen years have passed since the Gunners' undefeated Premier League season -- the club haven't won the title since -- and European glory has also eluded them. But now, the team is entering a new era under recently appointed coach Unai Emery, who brings new hope after Wenger's 22-year reign.

READ: 'Wenger Out' campaign finally gets its wish

Prior to Emery's appointment, Pirès said transforming the team to its former glory won't be easy.

"They have a lot of work to do and now is very important to prepare for the future, to build the new team -- with the new players, new talent," he said.

"It will be very intense for Arsenal during this summer, and very interesting."

READ: Unai Emery succeeds Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said the 46-year-old Emery was the "ideal" person for the north Londoners.

"Unai has an outstanding track record of success throughout his career, has developed some of the best young talent in Europe and plays an exciting, progressive style of football that fits Arsenal perfectly," Gazidis said in a statement.

"His hard-working and passionate approach and his sense of values on and off the pitch make him the ideal person to take us forward."

Emery's first match in charge will be on July 26 in Singapore, when Arsenal take on Atletico Madrid in a pre-season friendly.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features and videos

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49575

Reported Deaths: 2739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11812690
Lake5337247
Elkhart343257
Allen2867133
St. Joseph202569
Cass16439
Hamilton1629101
Hendricks1439100
Johnson1306118
Porter78038
Tippecanoe7439
Clark67144
Madison66864
Vanderburgh6296
LaPorte59727
Bartholomew59245
Howard58258
Kosciusko5654
Marshall5217
Noble49128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4773
Delaware46052
Boone45944
Hancock45736
Shelby43425
Floyd39144
Morgan32831
Monroe31528
Grant30226
Montgomery29720
Henry29316
Dubois2906
Clinton2882
White26810
Decatur25532
Lawrence25125
Dearborn24723
Vigo2408
Warrick23229
Harrison21722
Greene19132
Miami1892
Jennings17912
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess15017
Wayne1496
Perry1409
Orange13623
Steuben1332
Franklin1278
Jasper1252
Ripley1247
Wabash1152
Carroll1122
Fayette1037
Gibson1032
Newton9910
Whitley995
Starke963
Huntington822
Randolph804
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox650
Clay644
Rush603
Owen511
Adams491
Posey490
Benton480
Spencer461
Sullivan451
Brown421
Blackford392
Fountain332
Crawford320
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio210
Vermillion170
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61331

Reported Deaths: 3006
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11122439
Cuyahoga8518383
Hamilton6396206
Lucas2859304
Marion273739
Montgomery228335
Summit2269209
Pickaway220641
Mahoning1885239
Butler172147
Columbiana132460
Stark1171114
Lorain107368
Trumbull101474
Warren91825
Clark78410
Delaware64515
Fairfield61417
Tuscarawas59010
Belmont55822
Lake55122
Medina54832
Licking53612
Miami48631
Portage47759
Wood46151
Ashtabula43844
Clermont4367
Geauga41543
Wayne36752
Richland3595
Allen33841
Greene3009
Mercer29410
Erie26022
Darke25326
Holmes2524
Huron2342
Madison2069
Ottawa16124
Sandusky14215
Washington14220
Crawford1375
Ross1363
Putnam13315
Coshocton1323
Hardin12312
Morrow1201
Auglaize1094
Jefferson952
Muskingum921
Union921
Athens911
Monroe8917
Hancock841
Preble811
Hocking798
Lawrence790
Guernsey763
Shelby724
Williams722
Clinton700
Logan661
Fulton650
Ashland621
Wyandot615
Carroll603
Brown591
Scioto560
Defiance543
Knox531
Fayette510
Highland471
Champaign461
Van Wert430
Perry401
Seneca362
Henry320
Jackson270
Paulding270
Pike270
Adams241
Vinton222
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Angola
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Huntington
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Decatur
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Van Wert
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Breezy, Sunny Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events