Picking the final squad for the Euro which the French are hosting was probably a very difficult job for the manager Didier Deschamps because of the number of quality players eligible to represent France. When the final squad came out there were a few surprises, but most of the players in the squad have earned their place with some scintilating performances.
Due to varied reasons, many ‘world-class’ players will not feature for the host nation at the Euro and a 23-man squad comprising entirely of such players will blow your mind. In fact, one has to argue if Deschamps has picked the best possible squad.
Given below is the final 23-man squad Deschamps will use during Euro.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Benoit Costil (Stade Rennais)
Defenders: Samuel Umtiti (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Adil Rami (Sevilla), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Lucas Digne (AS Roma), Christophe Jallet (Lyon)
Midfielders: Paul Pogba (Juventus), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), N'Golo Kante (Leicester), Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle)
Forwards: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Andre-Pierre Gignac (UANL Tigres)
Now let’s see if this squad is better or worse than the one comprising of players who are missing out.
Alphonse Areola (PSG), Stephane Ruffier (St. Etienne) and Ludovic Butelle (Club Brugge)
Alphonse Areola of PSG is one the best young keepers in Europe. The 23-year-old spent last season on loan at Villarreal and was key to the Spanish club’s impressive record which eventually helped them clinch a Champions League berth. He conceded just 26 goals in 32 league games last season while keeping 15 clean sheets. He also finished third in the race for the Zamora trophy awarded to the La Liga keeper with the best ‘goal conceded to games ratio’ behind Jan Oblak and Claudio Bravo.
The experienced Stephane Ruffier of St. Etienne had a decent season last time around and kept 16 clean sheets. Ruffier was called up to the senior side for the FIFA World Cup 2010 as a late replacement for Cedric Carrasso, but he couldn’t be registered with the squad. However, he was part of the squad that travelled to Brazil for the 2014 edition.
Ludovic Butelle is a relatively unknown player to many fans and has never represented the France’s senior side. However, the player deserves a mention as he kept 11 clean sheets in 19 games in Ligue 1 for mid-table club Angers in the first half of last season and later moved to Belgium to play for Club Brugge for whom he kept 10 clean sheets in 18 games.