France head coach Didier Deschamps has finalised his 25-man list for the World Cup.
Deschamps had the option to select 26 players for the final squad, but he settled with 25, implying a 26-man squad is too big.
Deschamps’s distaste for 26-man squads might stem from France’s lackluster Euro 2020 campaign.
He felt 26 players were too hard to manage, and a 23-man squad was more manageable. But he settled for a 25-man squad in the end, considering players did not get much rest ahead of the World Cup, which could lead to injuries.
The biggest talking point is Ferland Mendy’s omission from the Les Bleus contingent.
Deschamps chose to go heavy on centre-backs. Theo Hernández and Benjamin Pavard are the only two natural fullbacks on the team.
Lucas Hernández, Presnel Kimpembe, Ibrahima Konaté, Jules Koundé, William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, and Raphaël Varane are all primarily centre-backs.
Koundé and Lucas Hernández can deputise as left backs, but there is no legitimate cover on the right.
In the midfield, Eduardo Camavinga, Youssouf Fofana, Mattéo Guendouzi, Adrien Rabiot, Aurélien Tchouameni, and Jordan Veretout are the options Deschamps will be able to draw from. The absence of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté will make Rabiot the most experienced midfielder in the pack.
Regardless of Rabiot’s off-the-pitch controversies, Deschamps kept his trust in him.
The Juventus midfielder will undoubtedly be one of the first names in the starting XI. Tchouameni and Fofana might accompany him in the midfield three.
Up front, France has the present Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and one of the likeliest future winners, Kylian Mbappé.
Antoine Griezmann did not have a great season with Atlético Madrid, but he had enough credit in the bank to earn a spot in the squad.
Griezmann might even be a starter.
He is one of Deschamps’s most reliable players. With Benzema and Mbappé pretty much nailed on, Griezmann might drop deeper to play a free role behind the dynamic duo of Benzema and Mbappé.
Christopher Nkunku reaped rewards for his prolific form for RB Leipzig.
Olivier Giroud was a regular starter in France’s World Cup-winning campaign in 2018. But the 36-year-old is expected to play a super-sub role this time around.
The AC Milan star has a great record in national team colours. So, he will be a great option to introduce from the bench.
Kingsley Coman and Ousmane Dembélé are the only traditional wingers in the squad.
This makes us believe Deschamps will go for a 4-3-1-2 without textbook wide player roles. Coman and Dembélé will serve as contingencies.
In goal, Mike Maignan could have replaced Hugo Lloris.
But the AC Milan shot-stopper’s injury restored Lloris as France’s number one goalkeeping option. The 36-year-old is putting in top level performances for Tottenham Hotspur, so France fans will expect him to deliver once again.
Alphonse Areola and Steve Mandanda will be the backup options.
France World Cup Squad 2022
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Alphonse Areola (Westham United), Steve Mandanda (Rennes)
Lucas Hernández (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Ibrahima Konaté (Liverpool), Jules Koundé (Barcelona), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernández (AC Milan), Benjamin Pavard(Bayern Munich), Raphaël Varane (Manchester United).
Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Mattéo Guendouzi (Olympique Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurélien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Jordan Veretout (Olympique Marseille).
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona).