The defending champions were given a rather favorable group in the draw this time around. They drew a solid Denmark team, Tunisia, and the winner of the intercontinental playoff between Australia/UAE and Peru.
Many of the players who helped the team to the last World Cup victory remain in contention for this edition in Qatar, while more have come onto the scene to challenge for a spot.
Here’s who’ll be picked in this upcoming France World Cup Squad Selection.
Lloris is the captain of this time and has been for years. His job is one of the safest on the planet as he’s locked to play every minute of this competition barring any injury setbacks.
His backup will be Mike Maignan, who has performed well at AC Milan.
The final spot came down to either veteran Steve Mandanda or West Ham’s Alphonse Areola. The latter gets the nod here because it seems like Mandanda’s time with the French National team has reached its conclusion, and it seems unlikely he’ll catapult himself back into the running at 37 years old.
I opted to go with just six defenders, leaving more flexibility in the attacking positions. It makes sense for this lineup because some of these players are guaranteed to be 90-minute players every game.
Varane, Kimpembe, and Kounde make up the best centre-back room of any nation, giving them the ability to rotate one in for another or play with three backs if they need to mix up the formation, as Kounde prefers to play on the left side.
Pavard had a spectacular World Cup four years ago and will obviously retain his position on the right-hand side, while Lucas Hernandez’s experience with German side Bayern will move him into the left-back spot. Lucas Digne is available out of Aston Villa to provide some more crossing ability and speed down the flanks.
Major omissions include Dayot Upamecano, who has suffered some poor form as of recent, William Saliba, who misses out due to a surplus of players of the same position, and Theo Hernandez, whose spot was also taken by Digne.
This midfield dynamic gives manager Didier Deschamps a ton of options in Qatar for his final run with the National team. Pogba and Kante have been staples in this side, and the likelihood of one of them not making the team is based only on availability. Adrien Rabiot makes up that midfield as well with plenty of experience himself.
Christopher Nkunku may be the surprise on this list, but his ability to play as a number 10 and create chances and score goals will provide this team with a spark off the bench should they need it. His 2 appearances for France thus far are enough to get him into this squad.
Thomas Lemar and Corentin Tolisso have more than 25 caps a piece for their country, and know the system in and out. They’ll be like-for-like substitutes should they appear.
The only candidate I considered here that didn’t make the cut was Moussa Sissoko. Though he’s made over 70 caps, I think his race is run for his country. Now playing for Watford, I just don’t see him ready to compete at the highest level with some of these other players.
Wissam Ben Yedder
When it comes to number nines, there’s no better right now than Karim Benzema, who has made his way back into the good graces of the national team. At least for now, Benzema will be the striker leading France to glory.
Griezmann can also play that role but has recently been more of a winger and he’ll help from the flanks.
Kylian Mbappe may be the best player in the world, and I’d be shocked if he didn’t start every match France plays in the contest. Coman will be opposite him as one of Bayern’s most creative players, he’ll combine fantastically with the talent around him with his country.
Dembele provides some more flashy ball skills on the wings and a good amount of experience with manager Deschamps.
Wissam Ben Yedder has been in top form this season for Monaco, and deserves a spot here, even if he never sees the pitch. He’ll be a great backup option if it comes down to that.
The last spot on this team really came down to Anthony Martial vs Olivier Giroud. This may have been more of a nostalgic pick, and I could’ve picked another defender, but Giroud is just too good for France to leave him out. He’s a goalscoring freak and he always performs under the brightest of lights. This team is energized by Giroud’s presence, and the team could use some old legs in the locker room after all.
Check out some other World Cup Squad Selections!