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Deschamps

The World Cup Question: The Defence: What Didier Deschamps’ France Squad Will Likely Look Like

With France manager Didier Deschamps expected to announce his preliminary, 30-man World Cup Squad on Tuesday, we take a look at who is likely to make it and why. 

Goalkeepers:

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham): There are several players who are assured of a place in the French squad for Brazil in a month’s time, with nobody more certain of being at and indeed playing in the tournament than France’s captain himself, Tottenham’s emblematic goalkeeper. Lloris has played in every single one of France’s international matches in the last 18 months, barring one summer friendly in 2013 and will remain a constant for Deschamps in Brazil. The Premier League goalkeeper, who is widely understood to want to leave Tottenham this summer, will have a point to prove in South America with some critics regarding his “sweeper keeper” trait as a liability. Lloris’ shot-stopping ability and efficacy is however undeniable and he will have to be firing on all cylinders for Les Bleus to lead by example. 

Verdict: On The Plane

Steve Mandanda (Marseille): OM’s number 1 has spent the best part of the last 3 years in Hugo Lloris’ shadow when it comes to the international stage. In fact, Mandanda has represented France just 15 times since 2008. Despite these disappointments for the Congo-born keeper, Mandanda will offer Deschamps both an established and an experienced second choice between the sticks. Criticisms regarding his inconsistency continue to cyclically crop up, but Mandanda is aware of how potentially precious any chance at the World Cup he may receive could be for his future at international level. 

Verdict: 30-man Squad? 100%; Brazil? 95%

Mickael Landreau (SC Bastia): The third goalkeeping place for the final 23 remains very much up for grabs, despite the fact that veteran Landreau has been occupying the spot during the majority of France’s World Cup Qualifiers. The vastly experienced goalkeeper has been a part of the French international set up since 2001 and Didier Deschamps is said to highly value Landreau’s experience and levelheadedness. With the majority of rival World Cup squads likely to name young 3rd choice goalkeepers to give them the experience for future years, Deschamps is still generally expected to name a member of the old guard in Landreau as his. 

Verdict: 30-man Squad? 100%; Brazil? 80%

Stéphane Ruffier (AS Saint Étienne): The former Monaco goalkeeper has had an extremely successful season with Les Verts and has arguably outperformed both Landreau and Mandanda in the process, with ASSE all but assured of a Europa League place for next term. For that reason, Deschamps is expected to include him in the 30-man squad next week. If the France manager does this, Ruffier will have ample opportunity to prove his worth. Making the 23-man squad will most likely be too difficult a task for Ruffier though, mainly because of his lack of exposure to the national setup in recent times. 

Verdict: 30-man Squad? 75%; Brazil? 60% 

Cédric Carrasso (Bordeaux): The 32 year old Bordelais has just one solitary international cap to his name from back in 2011. He has remained a stalwart in a rather up-and-down Bordeaux side in Ligue 1 in previous seasons, and will certainly have been considered by Didier Deschamps and his staff in the initial 50-man list that they drew up over a month ago. Carrasso has not been mentioned at all when it comes to Les Bleus in the last 18 months and his inclusion on Tuesday would be an extreme shock.

Verdict: 30-man Squad? 20%Brazil? 5%

 

Full-backs:

Patrice Evra (Manchester United): France’s controversial pitbull is fully expected to be on that plane to Brazil in just a few weeks time. The 32 year old left-back has had a turbulent year with various sections of the French media following his phenomenal interview on Téléfoot where he just about insulted every major French football pundit under the sun. Didier Deschamps stuck with the Manchester United man and will, all being well, start him in France’s first World Cup encounter in Brazil. The player will be there. 

Verdict: On The Plane

Gäel Clichy (Manchester City): With around twenty appearances for Manchester City this season, Clichy’s place at the World Cup is under threat. His inability to string a consistent set of performances this season has worried members of the FFF setup, although he is almost certain to feature in the list that Deschamps announces on Tuesday. The France manager is not expected to pick more than two left-backs for his 23-man squad, and, although Clichy would be the most established choice alongside Evra, Deschamps may decide to pick a youngster in his place. 

Verdict: 30-man Squad? 95%Brazil? 70%

Lucas Digne (Paris Saint Germain): Arguably the most promising French left-back at the time of writing, Deschamps has taken a late liking to PSG’s youngster who is generally second choice for the capital side to Maxwell. Digne made his French debut in a friendly vs the Netherlands this March and carried himself well, coming on as a second half substitute. Didier Deschamps will realistically choose between Clichy or Digne, but the latter has momentum on his side. 

Verdict: 30-man Squad? 90%Brazil? 70%

Jérémy Mathieu (Valencia CF): This versatile defender is generally accepted to have an outside chance of making France’s 23-man squad, but is perhaps likely to feature in the enlarged list announced next week. If he was to feature at all in Brazil, it would be down the left flank. Mathieu was notable for his performances against Sevilla in the Europa League semi-finals recently and during Valencia’s valiant draw with Real Madrid. Deschamps is understood to appreciate the player’s sense of leadership and character on the field, which will work to his advantage. 

Verdict: 30-man Squad? 65%Brazil? 55%

Benoit Trémoulinas (St Étienne): Another member of Les Verts’ squad who has really impressed in the second half of the season since he made a loan move from Dynamo Kiev at the start of the calendar year. Trémoulinas has two caps of France and similarly figured on Deschamps’ 50-man preliminary list. Again, he is at a major disadvantage because he has yet to feature at all in any France Deschamps-led fixtures. 

Verdict: 30-man Squad? 40%Brazil? 15%

Layvin Kurzawa (AS Monaco): The 21 year old has had a fantastic breakthrough campaign during 2013-2014, despite it fizzling out slightly towards the latter period of the season. Kurzawa is yet to receive an international cap and is still eligible to play for the Polish national team. His pace and willingness to go forward could suit Deschamps against teams in France’s World Cup Group who are likely to set up defensively (Honduras). 

Verdict: 30-man Squad? 35%Brazil? 15%

Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United): The Magpies’ right-back is currently Deschamps’ first choice in this position. His performances in the French shirt have been consistent enough to warrant a place on the plane, although his defensive abilities did come into question against some of the fiercer opposition that France encountered during their road to qualification. As for which right-back will start at the World Cup, Debuchy has the best chance, but perhaps illogically so when one looks at Bacary Sagna. 

Verdict: On The Plane

Bacary Sagna (Arsenal): A player who seems to have matured with age, Sagna has had a progressive season in an Arsenal shirt. His offensive contribution has drastically ameliorated following his newfound crossing ability and he will challenge Debuchy all the way for a place in the starting XI. 

Verdict: On The Plane

 

Central Defenders:

Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal): The Arsenal defender has been rewarded for an excellent season at the North London club with a contract extension until 2019. The former Lorient man may have watched the last World Cup from his sofa, but he has rapidly become Deschamps’ first choice centre back for their Brazilian campaign. 

Verdict: On The Plane 

Raphael Varane (Real Madrid): Varane has found it difficult to force himself into first team proceedings in the latter end of Real Madrid’s Champions League and La Liga campaigns, at least at centre back. Deschamps is however understood to place devoted trust into the youngster’s abilities to come true this World Cup, and, while a starting spot is still not assured for France, a fully-fit Varane will be on the plane. However, consistent knee problems in recent weeks means that the centre-back’s fitness will have to be carefully monitored before taking a decision. 

Verdict: 23-man Squad? 100%; Brazil? 95%

Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool FC): The former PSG man has had a season which can be best described as adequate, considering the adaptation he has had to undergo to adjust to Premier League life. Deschamps has not forgot his heroic performance on that fateful night in Paris when France sealed qualification against Ukraine and Sakho is expected to travel. 

Verdict: 23-man Squad? 100%Brazil? 95%

Eliaquim Mangala (FC Porto): France really has to be envied for the amount of young central defensive talent at their disposal. Mangala, 23, has a €50m price-tag on his head and after a Man of the Match performance in France’s last outing vs the Netherlands, will, barring a major shock, be part of Deschamps’ first ever World Cup squad as a manager. 

Verdict: 23-man Squad? 100%Brazil? 95%

Eric Abidal (AS Monaco): The 34 year old centre-back’s international career may have come to an definite end. Initially, Abidal was a crucial part of the Deschamps setup. However, when results, notably against Belarus, started to go against France in World Cup qualifying, the axe fell on the Monaco player. His performances at Monaco have been adequate for the most part, but personal issues with the club have hinted at an Eric Abidal who is no longer at the peak of his game, nor is he at all ready for a World Cup. The only valid argument that Deschamps would have for taking him is his prior experience and, in effect, a gift for Abidal to bow out of the international game potentially in style. 

Verdict: 23-man Squad? 50%Brazil? 30%

Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao): The 19 year old has never been selected for the French squad at the highest level, but his consistency this season for the over-achieving Bilbao setup has presented Deschamps with a case he could not ignore. It is however likely that the FFF decide it is a little too early for Laporte yet. 

Verdict: 23-man Squad? 40%Brazil? 20%

What is your verdict? Leave a comment below.