France, the defending champions of the FIFA WC announced their 25 member squad.
Despite Raphael Varane’s recent injury issues, France head coach Didier Deschamps included him and 36-year-old striker Olivier Giroud to the World Cup roster on Wednesday. For the tournament in Qatar, where France will try to become the first side to successfully defend its World Cup title since Brazil in 1962, Deschamps chose 25 players out of a possible 26.
Eleven players from the group that won the championship in 2018 are back, including Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Hugo Lloris, and backup goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
The 2014 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema will play in his first World Cup match since 2014 after missing several Real Madrid games this season due to injuries. Due to his involvement in the NSFW tape blackmail controversy involving Mathieu Valbuena and other members of his international team, Benzema was banned from the France team for five and a half years.
Presnel Kimpembe, a center back for Paris Saint-Germain, was chosen despite having only five appearances since the beginning of September due to thigh and Achilles issues.
By the time Varane returns to action on November 22, when France takes on Australia in their World Cup opener, he will have missed a month of action.
With William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Jules Kounde, and Ibrahima Konate on the team, Deschamps has a lot of options for cover in the center of the defense. Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard can also step in.
Mike Maignan, the injured calf of AC Milan’s goalie, was replaced by Mandanda, 37.
Due to the absence of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot are the likely starting for France in the midfield.
Youssouf Fofana of Monaco, Eduardo Camavinga of Real Madrid, Jordan Veretout and Matteo Guendouzi of Marseille, and others will assist them.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Rennes/FRA), Alphonse Areola (West Ham United/ENG)
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich/GER), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan/ITA), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool/ENG), Jules Kounde (Barcelona/ESP), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich/GER), William Saliba (Arsenal/ENG), Raphael Varane (Manchester United/ENG), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich/GER)
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid/ESP), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus/ITA), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid/ESP), Jordan Veretout (Marseille)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona/ESP), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan/ITA), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig/GER)