Euro 2020 Qualifiers: France squad announced; Lacazette, Laporte continue to miss out
What's the story?
France manager Didier Deschamps announced a 25-member squad for June's round of UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers against Androrra and Turkey, as well as a preparatory friendly against Bolivia before that. The major names left out by the 2018 FIFA World Cup champions were Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette, Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte, Manchester United's Anthony Martial and Lyon's Nabil Fekir. Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele missed out due to injury.
In case you didn't know...
The qualifiers for the UEFA 2020 European Championships began in March with the 55 contesting teams drawn into 10 groups consisting of 5 or 6 teams each. The four participants of the 2019 UEFA Nations League Finals (Switzerland, Portugal, Netherlands and England) in June 2019 were placed in a separate pot and drawn into Groups A–D, which only have five teams, so that they only have to play eight qualifying matches, leaving two free matchdays to play the Nations League Finals.
The top 2 from each UEFA 2020 Qualifying group will make it into the finals and the remaining 4 spots will be decided by the play-offs. The newly created UEFA Nations League is also linked to UEFA Euro qualifying, providing teams another chance to qualify for the premier European continental championship.
The qualifying process will guarantee that at least one team from each division of the previous Nations League season will qualify for the final tournament (either directly or through the play-offs). Each league in the UEFA Nations League will be allocated one of the four remaining UEFA Euro 2020 places. Four teams from each league, which have not already qualified for the European Championship finals, will compete in the play-offs of their league, to be played in March 2020.
The play-off berths will be first allocated to each pool winner, and if any of the pool winners have already qualified for the European Championship finals, then to the next best ranked team of the division.
France currently top Group H, after having beaten Moldova 1-4 and Iceland 4-0 in March.
The heart of the matter
Although Deschamps' Les Blues side won the title in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, they have shown signs of weakness since then. The finished second to a rejuvenated Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League Group A1 last November, losing 2-0 away to the Oranje thanks to goals from Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum and Lyon's Memphis Depay.
A surprise inclusion in the France squad was Barcelona centre-back Clement Lenglet, who has displaced countryman Samuel Umititi as first-choice centre back in the Blaugrana set up. Many felt that Laporte would get his first call-up but Deschamps decided otherwise.
Other uncapped players to be called-up includes Montpellier goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte, Lille custodian Mike Maignan and Lyon right-back Léo Dubois.
Another player who can feel hard done by, is Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette who racked up 19 goals and 10 assists for the Gunners in all competitions, despite playing second fiddle to Gabonese hitman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for most of the season.
Anthony Martial's inconsitent performances with Manchester United saw Sevilla's Wissam Ben Yedder selected in his place while Bayern winger Kingsley Coman got the nod ahead of Lyon captain Fekir.
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) (captain), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain), Benjamin Lecomte (Montpellier), Mike Maignan (Lille)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona) Ferland Mendy (Lyon), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Kurt Zouma (Everton)
Midfielders: N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham)
Forwards: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Wissam Ben Yedder (Sevilla), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)
France's upcoming fixtures read as below:
June 2nd (International Friendly): France vs Bolivia
June 8th (UEFA 2020 Qualifier): Turkey vs France
June 11th (UEFA 2020 Qualifier): France vs Andorra