Allez les Bleus: France World Cup Preview
France make their way to Brazil with rather similar ambitions to England with hopes greater than expectations.
They will be hoping to make amends from their previous World Cup tournament, where France made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Which saw players walk out and generally appalling results. This World Cup France will be trying to rebuild their reputation as one of Europe’s great teams.
Before the tournament has even began the French National Manager Didier Deschamps stunned the footballing world by announcing Man City star man Samir Nasri would not be included in the 23 man squad flying to Brazil. Such shock was expressed in rather colourful language by the footballers girlfriend infamous rants on twitter. Deschamps is even said to be taking legal advise over the tweets.
Nasri himself expressed his anger and disappointment at the decision, telling Canal+1: “If starting games in a club like Manchester City and winning two titles isn’t enough, too bad, I wont regret anything.” Nasri has made 41 caps scoring 4 international goals.
Deschamps has also dropped other experienced players such as Nasri’s fellow teammate Gael Clichy and 34 year old Eric Abidal, in what looks to be a very young squad selected by the manager.
The French squad
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (PSG), Mikael Landreau (Bastia)
Defenders: Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Lucus Digne (PSG), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool)
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (PSG), Clement Grenier (Olympique Lyon), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille),
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Loic Remy (OPR), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Frank Ribery (Bayern Bayern)
Players such as 23 year old Real Sociedad striker Antoine Griezmann, 20 year old left back Lucas Digne and Porto’s 23 year old centre back Eliaquim Mangala will all be heading to their first World Cup. They have been handed the world’s biggest stage on which to impress and must grab the opportunity if made available to them. Griezmann has had a hugely successful season in La Liga, and in fact all three’s performances this season could ultimately end up with a transfer to some of Europe’s juggernauts.
France have been drawn in Group E with Honduras, Switzerland and Ecuador with their first game being on 15th of June against Honduras. France will be expecting to win their group with ease, anything less will put Deschamps under serious pressure especially after leaving big names at home.
Paul Pogba: The up-and-coming superstar finally has the chance to show the world what he’s capable of. The stage is well and truly set in Brazil and the tournament could be a great one for him personally. After a fantastic season’s work for Juventus, a starting berth in this French side will go a long way to raising his reputation further.
Mathieu Debuchy: Even in a poor Newcastle United team that concedes goals for fun, Debuchy has shown himself to be a class act, capable of playing at the highest level. He could make a deadly combination with Ribery down the right wing, able to provide crosses and make space for the team’s lethal finishers.
Karim Benzema: In what looks to be a rather goal dry squad, Benzema will need to be at the top of his game if France are to have any chance of reaching the latter stages of the competition. He has had a good season for his club side Real Madrid, notably scoring against Bayern Munich in their gigantic semi-final tie. He may well move on to pastures new this summer, making the World Cup a perfect world stage to show off his talents.
France will be aiming to achieve at least the second round, anything less will be a complete failure. Very much like England, France will hope they can make the quarter finals and anything more than this could be taken as a rather unexpected success.