Originally featured on the TalkingTikiTaka – WC2014 Blog
Cast your mind back four years ago to May 2010. Ahead of the South Africa World Cup, France were being tipped for success in the summer tournament not only because of the strong squad and promising mix of both youthful and experienced players but also because they were seen as the team to beat in a group which included hosts South Africa, Uruguay and Mexico. However a lacklustre 0-0 draw in their opening Group A match set the tone for the rest of the campaign which seen France lose to both Uruguay and Mexico, sending them not only out of the tournament but also famously sending them back home on an economy class flight back from South Africa as somewhat of a punishment from the FFF. Reports surfaced both during and after the tournament of infighting and a rift between players and members of management with supposed strikes being led by senior players and taking place during the course of the tournament and overall South Africa 2010 was a tournament to forget for France.
Four years later, France find their chances in this years tournament being talked up once again deemed as the team to beat in Group E where they will face Ecuador, Switzerland and Honduras. The most noticeable absentees from the French 23 man squad are Manchester City left back Gael Clichy as Paris Saint Germain left back Lucas Digne is the preferred option of French manager Didier Deschamps, whilst Bordeaux midfielder Yoann Gourcuff, heavily linked with Arsenal in the past also fails to make the cut for this summers tournament. Above all, the most suprirising omission has to be that of Manchester City creative midfielder Samir Nasri. Despite an underwhelming 12/13 season, Nasri has been instrumental in City’s title campaign during the 13/14 – scoring vital goals in both the Carling Cup final and the title deciding final match of the season against West Ham. His absence from the squad was one which Nasri seemed to expect prior to the big announcement but this seemingly came as a big surprise to his partner who took to twitter to vent her frustration at Nasri’s omission. On the contraversial matter, Deschamps has been quoted with saying:
“Samir is an important player for Manchester City but he has not performed that well with France. He is a starter at City, which is not the case with France and he has made clear that he is not happy when he is not [a starter], and I can tell you it can be felt in the squad. I built the best squad, I did not pick the 23 best French players.”
So no Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy or Yoann Gourcuff but despite these absentees, Deschamps 23 man squad does boast an abundance of exciting, world class players which are heavily tipped to not simply to make amends for their disastrous world cup campaign in 2010 but to also help France to progress to latter stages of the tournament.
Didier Deschamps’ 23 man squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mickaël Landreau (Bastia)
Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Lucas Digne (PSG) Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (PSG), Clément Grenier (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Loïc Rémy (Newcastle), Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich)
Stand-by players: Stéphane Ruffier (Monaco), Loïc Perrin (St Etienne), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Benoît Trémoulinas (Dynamo Kyiv), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), Rémy Cabella (Montpellier)