Two months before the World Cup, world champions France are plagued by injury worries. On Thursday, national coach Didier Deschamps will announce his squad for the Nations League. Almost a dozen regulars are missing.
Two months before the World Cup in Qatar, where Deschamps’ team wants to defend the title, worries are growing for the national team. Most of the important players are injured: Paul Pogba, N’golo Kanté, Kingsley Coman, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez, Karim Benzema, Ibrahima Konaté, Thomas Lemar. An overview of the possible solutions.
Lloris or Magnan in goal?
The only position where Deschamps can draw from a full complement is that of goalkeeper. Hugo Lloris, the captain, remains the number one despite Mike Maignan’s very good performances in Milan. In the position of the third goalkeeper, everything is open. Alban Lafont is a serious candidate. The FC Nantes goalkeeper has not yet been called up to the senior team. However, the availability of world champions Steve Mandanda and Alphonse Areola could be an obstacle for him.
More options in defence
For a few games now, Deschamps has settled on the 3-4-3 system. In central defence, Hernandez and Varane are unquestionable regulars. With the Bayern player unavailable, the coach’s options are quite varied. Jules Koundé is versatile. In defence, he can play both in the centre and on the side. The FC Barcelona newcomer has already been in the European Championship squad, and his performances in the national team make him a potential regular.
William Saliba is also a candidate for this position. The former OM defender has been strong at Arsenal this start to the season and has been nominated to the coach’s final list. Wesley Fofana, new signing from Chelsea, has a good chance of being nominated. The former Leicester player had cancelled for the June internationals due to his wedding.
The “Bleus” coach will have to do without his strong tandem Pogba – Kanté in the two Nations League matches. Since the last European Championship, Deschamps has never been able to field a starting eleven with both players from the beginning. Last season, Kanté missed three quarters of the international matches. The Chelsea player was injured against Tottenham but should be fit in time for the World Cup.
This is not necessarily the case for his midfield colleague. Pogba is suffering from a knee injury sustained in training. After initially ruling out surgery, the French midfielder finally gave up and decided to have the operation. His participation in the World Cup in Qatar is more than endangered.
Aurelien Tchouameni was successfully tried out in the absence of Pogba or Kanté. The former AS Monaco player is well on his way to playing his way into the starting eleven. The coach could call on Corentin Tolisso, who has been getting more match practice since his return to Lyon. Eduardo Camavinga is performing well at Real Madrid and thus knocking on the door of the national team. Boubakar Kamara and Matteo Guendouzi took part in the last Nations League matches in June
Who should support Mbappé up front?
With Benzema’s injury and Griezmann’s situation at the club, the attack needs to be rethought. Griezmann is experiencing a complicated start to the season at Atletico Madrid. The world champion suffers from an acute lack of playing time. Despite this, he remains an integral part of the team and one of the players Deschamps has relied on the most since taking charge.
Who to accompany Kylian Mbappé up front? The staff’s options are many. Ousmane Dembelé is in top form at FC Barcelona and could make his comeback. His friendly relationship with the PSG star could be an advantage for the “Bleus”.
Olivier Giroud has been left out of recent training courses. He also made a good start to the season at Milan and could earn a place in Deschamps’ list. The centre-forward is just three goals away from the national team record of Thierry Henry (51). The two Bundesliga attackers Christopher Nkunku and Moussa Diaby already have a foot in the Clairefontaine castle, where the “Bleus” usually meet. They should be assured of a place for the coming games.
To defend the title, the French national team must emerge from a group (D) with Tunisia, Australia and Denmark. Until then, Deschamps can hope that the list of unavailable players will become much less full.