France will play four-man defence at World Cup

In his press conference following the announcement of his 25-man France squad for the World Cup, Didier Deschamps notably confirmed that he would be reverting to a four-man defence for his set-up in Qatar.

The France manager, who also later confirmed that the tactical choice was the main reason for Marseille wing-back Jonathan Clauss missing out on the squad, has called up four players to cover the full-back roles – Benjamin Pavard, Jules Koundé, Lucas Hernandez and Théo Hernandez, added to the five specialist centre-halves.

Les Bleus had been lining up with three or five-man backlines since the Euros in 2021. Deschamps has explained that although the formation did bring some success – notably the Nations League win last autumn – it also led to some “imbalance” in the way the team was playing. For the double World Cup winner, the key for France this winter will be defensive solidity, without sacrificing the team’s talents going forward either.

When asked if France will return to the asymmetric 4-2-3-1 system that won them the World Cup in 2018 and whether Adrien Rabiot could play in the specialised left-sided midfield role that Blaise Matuidi so brilliantly occupied 4 years ago, Deschamps responded:

“He has already done it with Juventus. His development has allowed him to have a wider range of skills. He has defined himself as a player who balances. For a coach, that has a lot of value.”

GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin

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