Evra eyeing triple crown
© Foto-net

There is little doubt that Patrice Evra is a key cog in the Manchester United machine, the France international left-back's defensive solidity, attacking bursts and accurate crossing all helping him amass an impressive 121 appearances and two goals since arriving at Old Trafford in January 2006.

On the back of another high-octane display in the Red Devils' semi-final win over Gamba Osaka here at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2008, which included an assist for Darren Fletcher's 78th-minute strike, the 27-year-old Senegal-born star took the time to speak to FIFA.com.

FIFA.com: Patrice Evra, what is your verdict on this thrilling match?
Patrice Evra:
We scored a lot of goals but we also conceded three, which isn't normal for us. But we played nice football and were happy at the end of the match. I think that the crowd enjoyed the game too. That said, I think that we've done the easy part now, we just had to get the job done. The hardest part, winning the final, is still to come.

How would you rate your own performance against Gamba Osaka?
I felt that I played pretty well, especially given the conditions, and I even provided an assist! I'm pleased for myself and I'm also happy that we're still on track. These will be my last matches of the year because I'll find myself taking an enforced break after this tournament (Editor's note: Evra is due to start a four-game suspension from domestic action). So I want to give 200 per cent here and give absolutely everything I've got out on the pitch.

Did the way the Asian champions played surprise you?
No, Gamba Osaka's performance didn't surprise us. We'd seen them on video and we knew they could play. No teams have come to this tournament for a holiday, they're all here to win. It's a heated affair, we're going to need to be at our best. If we're not professional then we won't win this tournament, it's as simple as that.

You are up against Liga Deportivo Universitaria de Quito next. What do you know about them?
We've not studied Liga de Quito yet but I've played against Ecuador for the French national team and I know that they're talented players, who move the ball around well. We're going to start watching videos of them on Friday to ensure we're thoroughly prepared for this final. This match is very important to us.

What does this tournament mean to Manchester United?
We've not come here just to go sight-seeing in Japan I can assure you. We could become the first English team to win this competition, and if we did so we'd pull off a League-Champions League-Club World Cup triple, which would be quite something. As a player, you don't get historic opportunities like these very often, so you mustn't let them slip by. I honestly think that every player in the squad has that in mind and therefore we're totally focused on fulfilling our objective.

You arrived in Japan just a few days ago, how are you adapting to the change in time zone?
Adapting isn't easy, I only slept three hours the first night here. That said it's not about looking for excuses, we can sleep when we get back to Manchester! But I thought it would be easier, we're all having a bit of trouble sleeping.

Despite performing at a consistently high level for Manchester United, you have yet to cement your place as France's first-choice left-back. Why do you think this is?
I feel totally at home with my club, but with the France team it's very different. It's entirely up to me to try and feel equally at home with Les Bleus. That's happening bit by bit. I'm getting more call-ups under my belt, I've got a good relationship with the coach and I know my team-mates well - they're all great players. If I can keep playing big matches with United, I don't see why I won't get there in the blue shirt. What's more, when I play for Les Bleus I'm representing my country, so my heart swells even more.