On Thursday night, France boss Didier Deschamps named his 23-man squad for this summer’s World Cup in 2018. The major talking points were the omission of Karim Benzema, Alexandre Lacazette and Anthony Martial.
Former West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet will also not be on the plane to Russia this summer. The Marseille star injured his hamstring in OM’s 3-0 Europa League final defeat against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night. He would have been in contention for the squad but for the injury according to Deschamps.
The likes of Wissam Ben Yedder and Kingsley Coman also miss out, while Kurt Zouma, Mamadou Sakho, Martial and Moussa Sissoko are on the standby list.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain)
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven N’Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)
Talented attacking players
The omission of the quarter is not a major surprise considering the other attacking players available to boss Deschamps. The likes of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann have both once again enjoyed excellent seasons. Deschamps favour Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud as a focal point of the attack.
Then there is Marseille winger Florin Thauvin, who has been prolific in front of goal while also providing his teammates with chances too. Lyon’s attacking midfielder Nabil Fekir has enjoyed another good campaign, which reportedly has Liverpool monitoring his situation.
In short, Deschamps is spoilt for choice when it comes to his attacking players. Somebody had to miss out and there were factors in the quartets omission from the squad. Payet was an injury. Benzema has not seen eye to eye with Deschamps for a good while.
Martial and Lacazette have not always been regular starters at Manchester United and Arsenal respectively. Lacazette also experienced injury problems earlier this season, which saw him lose his place up front to new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in north London.
Talented enough to win the World Cup
France will head into World 2018 as one of the favourites to lift the trophy in Russia. They have the talent and the experience to mount a serious challenge this summer. Les Bleus even have the experience of reaching the final of 2016 on home soil at their last tournament appearance.
Deschamps and his team will be looking to go one step better this time around. However, they face stiff competition from Germany, Spain, Brazil and Argentina in Russia. Les Bleus are amongst that leading group of countries looked at by many as possible winners.
Didier Deschamps had a nice headache being able to pick from some of the best players from the best teams for his squad. Understandably, there are differing opinions on whether he has named the squad that will give France the best chance of winning the trophy in Russia 2018.
However, like with every squad selected for the big event, there will be question marks over some of the players absent and some of those in the squads. On paper, though, it really is difficult to see where France’s weaknesses are. Surely they will be amongst the leading pack this summer.
Will France win this summer’s World Cup?