FIFA World Cup 2022: Plagued with injuries, France head to World Cup infused with top-notch young talents in bid to defend throne
France do not have a dearth of talent in their squad, making them one of the most formidable teams in the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. In their long history of playing in this competition, the side have won the trophy twice, in 1998 and 2018. But they also have the ignominy of being among the first teams to suffer from the affliction many call the 'Curse of the defending champions'.
Fixtures: France vs Australia: November 22, France vs Denmark: November 26, France vs Tunisia: November 30
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola, Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez, Theo Hernandez, Alex Disasi, Ibrahima Konate, Jules Kounde, Benjamin Pavard, William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Raphael Varane
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga, Youssouf Fofana, Matteo Guendouzi, Adrien Rabiot, Aurelien Tchouameni, Jordan Veretout, Randal Kolo Muani
Forwards: Karim Benzema, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe
A regular at the World Cup since the beginning of the 21st century, France also finished as runners-up in 2006, making them the most successful team in the modern history of the country. However, they also exited the group
stage in 2002 and 2010. But this time around, they are in a different ball game altogether, especially with the injuries to their previous world cup heroes Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante.
Battling the lack of Pogba and Kante
In the absence of arguably two of the best midfielders in football, Deschamps has taken an intelligent approach to the midfield of his team. The only drawback is that these players do not have experience at a major FIFA tournament like Pogba and Kante. The only experience in that midfield contingent goes to Adrien Rabiot and Jordan Veretout.
But the fact that both Aurelin Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga play in the middle for Real Madrid is sure to help with the coordination. A lot of focus will also fall on Matteo Guendouzi, whose France career seemed down in the dumps after his falling out at Arsenal, but has forced his way back after performing exceptionally well for Marseilles.
Onus on Kylian Mbappe but Benzema's presence a boost
In 2018, Mbappe was an unknown prodigy who was just breaking into world football, It was at the tournament, and his time with Monaco before that, which established him as one of the best attackers in football. However, Mbappe did not succeed when tasked with leading the attack at the Euros.
This time around, he will have the backing of Balon D'or winner Karim Benzema, who has been exceptional for France, so much so that the head coach had to bring him back to the fold for the 2020 Euros, having been frozen out of the team before that.
Untested defensive line a weak link
France have the experience of Raphael Varane, Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard from the last World Cup to rely on. But in the last four years, the likes of Ibrahima Konate, Jules Kounde, William Saliba and Dayot Upamecano have proven their abilities in Europe.
With Presnel Kimpembe out of the tournament, it will be interesting to see which centre-back Deschamps goes with because the rest of them have little to no amount of game time in big tournaments. The other option is to use Lcus Hernandez in that position, but this will be a big gamble for the Les Blues.