FIFA World Cup 2022: Decoding the squad of France
Defending champions France named a 25-man squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Didier Deschamps' men will be hopeful of becoming the third side to win consecutive World Cups, after Italy (1934, 1938) and Brazil (1958, 1962). The two-time winners are seated in Group D alongside Denmark, Tunisia, and Australia. France will kickstart their campaign on November 23. Here we decode France's squad.
France: GKs, defenders, and midfielders
Goalkeepers: Alphone Areola (West Ham), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Rennes). Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernandez (Milan), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United). Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real), Jordan Veretout (Marseille).
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Christopher Nkunku (Leipzig).
Who are the notable absentees?
Last month, midfielder N'Golo Kante was ruled out of the FIFA World Cup after undergoing an operation on a hamstring injury. Kante played a key role for France in their 2018 FIFA World Cup win. Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid) and Anthony Martial (Manchester United) were left out. Aston Villa's Lucas Digne, Chelsea's Wesley Fofana, and Napoli's Tanguy Ndombele are other prominent names missing out.
Pogba needs more time to recover
Paul Pogba, who played a key role in helping France win the 2018 edition of the tournament, will miss the trip to Qatar as he needs more time to recover from a knee operation. Notably, Pogba suffered a knee injury in July and initially opted not to have surgery. He underwent surgery last month and had recommenced partial training with Juventus.
Lloris will start between the posts
Tottenham ace Hugo Lloris will both captain the side and start in goal for the reigning champions. He has already fetched six clean sheets in 20 appearances for the Spurs 2022-23 season. Alphonse Areola (West Ham) and Steve Mandanda (Stade Rennes) will be his backup.
How does France's defense look like?
France are likely to go with a three-man central defense. Manchester United's Raphael Varane is coming from an injury. Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, and Dayot Upamecano are leading customers. Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez (both Bayern), and Theo Hernandez (AC Milan) are solid options as wing-backs. William Saliba, Jules Kounde, and Ibrahima Konate offer options as valuable back-ups in the central defensive unit.
France lack experience in the middle
France will have to field a fairly young midfield line-up. Real Madrid's Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni are likely to form the midfield in a 3-4-1-2 formation. Adrien Rabiot adds dimension as a box-to-box midfielder and can used id Deschamps prefers three in the middle. Matteo Guendouzi and Jordan Veretout (both Marseille) and Monaco's Youssouf Fofana are options on the bench for Deschamps.
No dearth in attacking options
Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema can form an able partnership alongside Kylian Mbappe in a 3-4-1-2 formation for France with Antoine Griezmann as the number 10. If playing with a more fluid 4-3-3, Mbappe can shift on the left with Ousmane Dembele covering the right flank. France also have Olivier Giroud, who adds vitality as a number nine. Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku adds freshness.
France Probable XI versus Australia
France face Australia on November 23 (12:30 AM IST). France's Probable XI vs Australia (4-3-3): Hugo Lloris; Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Dayot Upamecano, Theo Hernandez; Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga, Adrien Rabiot; Ousmane Dembele, Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe.