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France Provisional Squad Roster: Players Set to Shine

Daniel ThomasContributor IOctober 18, 2016

France Provisional Squad Roster: Players Set to Shine

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    French manager Laurent Blanc named his provisional 26-man squad this week for the upcoming Euro 2012 tournament.

    He has until May 29 to whittle this number down to 23.

    France face tough group-stage matches against England, Ukraine and Sweden, but can probably be considered as the favourites to win the group.

    While some in France  are skeptical about the team's overall chances of glory, there's no denying that the French squad will contain some quality players come June.

    Will anyone be this year's Zidane?

    Here's my choice of five French players who I think will light up this year's tournament.

Laurent Koscielny

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    After an indifferent first season at Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny came into his own this year, and was one of the star defensive performers of not just the Premier League, but of European football as a whole.

    He led the whole of Europe in last-man tackles, and, among centre-backs, led the Premier League in tackles and interceptions.

    In short, Arsenal would not have secured Champions League football without him.

    He may not be an automatic starter for France at present, and Laurent Blanc may decide to go with the partnership of Philippe Mexes and Adil Rami that has served him well in recent friendlies.

    But, given the chance, Koscielny could be one of the stars of Euro 2012.

Olivier Giroud

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    Montpellier currently sit at the top of Ligue Un, and require only one point from their remaining game to secure a historic championship.

    A major reason for their success has been the goals and overall attacking threat of Olivier Giroud.

    With 21 goals and nine assists, he has been in dynamite form this season, and has attracted the attention of a range of top European clubs.

    And he's shown that he can be a threat at the international level as well, bagging a goal in France's win over Germany in February.

    If Giroud plays as well in Ukraine and Poland as he has in France, he may well be leaving for new pastures sooner rather than later.

Karim Benzema

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    It seems incredible to think now, but Karim Benzema came very close to leaving Real Madrid last summer.

    Instead, he bagged 32 goals and 15 assists in all competitions last season, and was an instrumental part of Real's first league championship in four years.

    More importantly, Benzema also seems to have matured this season into the truly dominant player that he always threatened to become.

    The current holder of the France Football French Player of the Year, there will be a huge weight of expectation placed on his shoulders this summer in eastern Europe.

    I think he will rise to the occasion, and would bet on him scoring in the opening match against England.

Mathieu Debuchy

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    Despite starting his footballing life as a midfielder, Mathieu Debuchy eventually settled into the right-back position and hasn't looked back since.

    A one-club man, Debuchy was a key part of the Lille side that won Ligue Un in 2010.

    While players such as Gervinho and Yohan Cabaye have since left, and Eden Hazard is poised to move, Debuchy has stuck with his club, and has continued to impress.

    A dazzling performance in France's win against Germany in February drew the attention of many scouts, including, purportedly, those of Newcastle and Manchester United.

    With Bacary Sagna ruled out of the Euros with a broken leg, Debuchy will start the majority of France's matches.

    And an impressive outing in the Euros could see him finally part ways with his boyhood club.

Hatem Ben Arfa

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    Still only 25 years old, it seems that Hatem Ben Arfa has been the golden boy of French football for quite some time.

    Despite his prodigious talent, controversy has seemed to follow Ben Arfa during his early career, with training ground arguments and fights during his time at Lyon and Marseille.

    With five French league championships under his belt by 2010, Ben Arfa finally obtained the move to the Premier League that had been mooted since he was a teenager.

    Yet, only months into his Newcastle career, he suffered a double leg fracture after a brutal tackle by Manchester City's Nigel de Jong, and promptly missed the majority of the 2010-11 season.

    There were doubts over whether he could recover, but he put in arguably the best performances of his career during the 2011-12 season, including an incredible solo goal against Bolton Wanderers.

    Just like Benzema, Ben Arfa seems to have added maturity to his talent, and has taken his ability to the next level.

    Having only featured eight times for France since his debut in 2007, this season will have the moment when Ben Arfa finally steps up and becomes an integral member of his national team.

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