- Country: France
Nickname: Les Blues
Manager: Raymond Domenech
Group Opponents: Mexico, Uruguay, South Africa
Recent Form & News: France have simply been in the news. In the thick of all the controversy. May it be their qualifying clash against the Irish or the selection of the final 23, France have not had it easy. Last time around too, before the 2006 World Cup; Zinedine Zidane had to rise from retirement to guide the Les Blues to the world Cup and from thereon to the finals. This time however, things will not be as simple as their talisman is not playing. Thierry Henry who will captain the side at the Cup, was the reason for controversy at the qualifiers where he handled the ball too kick the IrIsh out of the Cup; more importantly to gain a seat at the finals.
In other major issues, Coach Raymond Domenech has been ynder constant criticism from critics and has not helped himself by leaving major contenders out of the team. Samir Nasri, Karim Benzema and Patrick Veira have all been left out of the team. Also, Domenech (who is known to be mysteriously funny at times) announced the provisional squad at a TV Show rather than at a press conference.
Final 23 man squad
Their are little problems for France in this area. Hugo Lloris is a dependable man who has had an excellent season at Lyon. He is in the news for having talks with Manchester United who are looking to find a successor to Van-der-Saar. With Lloris protecting the goal France are likely to have it easy against minnow group teams. He can be vital in crunch situations for France. Good News here!
Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyon)
Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille)
Cedric Carrasso (Girondins Bordeaux)
It is more of an Arsenal defense rather than a new France defense. With William Gallas likely to be fit for the World Cup he will go into the cup games with his arsenal mate Gael Clichy who has earned a reputation at the London Club. Bacary Sagna will be making his typical runs through the flanks to support the midfield and on requirement will put in the crosses. The running will be between Eric Abidal and Patrice Evra. Here Barcelona man Abidal is likely to take the field.
Anthony Reveillere (Olympique Lyon)
Bacary Sagna (FC Arsenal)
William Gallas (FC Arsenal)
Gael Clichy (FC Arsenal)
Eric Abidal (FC Barcelona)
Sebastien Squillaci (FC Sevilla)
Patrice Evra (Manchester United)
Marc Planus (Girondins Bordeaux)
In France midfiel a lot will depend upon the star man – Franck Ribery. Ribery has had a hard time in the recent past missing the Champions League final for Bayern and being in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. He would be raring to set the record straight at the Cup. Ribery will be expected to play the same role as Zidane did the last time in magnitude if not in the style. On zidane, Yoann Gourcuff is a youngster vying for the World’s attention as he stated to be a revelation. Florent Malouda and Alouy Diarra will make the rest of the midfield.
Jeremy Toulalan (Olympique Lyon)
Alou Diarra (Girondins Bordeaux)
Florent Malouda (Chelsea)
Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)
Yoann Gourcuff (Girondins Bordeaux)
Abou Diaby (Arsenal)
A lot here will depend on old-horse Henry. After spending a great amount of time on the bench for Barcelona he will thrown into the thick of the action as he captains France. He will have quality assistance from Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka who will do his predator’s job like always. Djibril Cisse has been in hot form and can be dangerous for opponent teams.
Thierry Henry (FC Barcelona)
Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea)
Djibril Cisse (Panathinaikos Athens)
Sidney Govou(Olympique Lyon)
Andre-Pierre Gignac (FC Toulouse)
Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille)
On paper France can be called upper-middleweights when one considers the line-ups of teams like Spain, England and Argentina. But the real problem lies in the moral of the team that is brimming with negativity. Anelka was heard saying- “We have to work to find an answer, if not it’s just not possible. We’ll be coming home after the three matches,” Anelka told Orange Sport recently.