This evening at 20:00 local time, France boss Didier Deschamps will announce his 23-man squad for the Russia 2018 World Cup, as well as a list of 7 reserve players, on TF1.
So what will that squad look like? Here is the latest information we have on the hot topic…
No surprises expected here: Hugo Lloris will be going to Russia as France’s #1 and captain, with Steve Mandanda and Alphonse Areola travelling as #2 and #3 respectively.
Three individuals are vying for two spots at right-back: Djibril Sidibé, Mathieu Debuchy and Benjamin Pavard. The Monaco man has recently come back from injury, but has been under the supervision of national team fitness coach Grégory Dupont, who appears confident that Sidibé is worth taking, according to L’Équipe. Then, it comes down choosing between experience and youth, someone Deschamps knows well and a player who surprised many in making his first couple of squads this campaign.
On the left, Benjamin Mendy is, despite his comparative lack of playing time this season, a quasi-cert. Lucas Digne’s lack of recent playing time with Barcelona, with just 2 games under his belt in the last 2 months and disappointing performances during March’s call-up, mean that he is now neck-and-neck with Atletico’s Lucas Hernandez.
Again, this area of the squad should see pretty uncontroversial selections: Presnel Kimpembe, Samuel Umtiti and Raphaël Varane will all be there, with Adil Rami expected to take injured Arsenal man Laurent Koscielny’s place. Deschamps dabbled with the idea of taking Aymeric Laporte instead, but is convinced that he needs a right-footed central defender in his squad.
With Deschamps’ current plan being to utilise a 4-3-3 at this summer’s tournament, he has some big questions in this department to answer. N’Golo Kanté, Paul Pogba, Corentin Tolisso and Blaise Matuidi will all almost certainly be there, leaving two spaces left. Adrien Rabiot is in trouble, and could lose his spot to Sevilla’s more traditionally defensive midfielder Steven N’Zonzi. Thomas Lemar, whose form in 2018 has been absolutely terrible, could just squeak by, but only because of historical performances in the France shirt.
Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappé are 100% on the plane. Barcelona Frenchman Ousmane Dembélé is also expected to make it, with his potential as an impact player too great to ignore. Dimitri Payet was heading in the right direction to win a call-up, but last night’s hamstring injury has thrown a big spanner in the works. Franck Le Gall, the Marseille and French national team doctor, is expected to inform Deschamps today about Payet’s condition, and a decision will likely be made in the coming hours.
A Payet injury would play well into the hands of Nabil Fékir, with Deschamps looking for a creative presence to back-up Antoine Griezmann. The truth is that in this sector, what Deschamps does is anyone’s guess: Alexandre Lacazette’s place is severely in doubt, with Wissam Ben Yedder on the scene, Kingsley Coman, Anthony Martial and Florian Thauvin, alongside Fékir, all vying for 2 places, and that’s only if Payet is ruled out with injury.
See you this evening for when then drama all unfolds.