Power Ranking France's Striking Options
In attack, France national team coach Didier Deschamps is not exactly blessed with a wealth of options at present. His over-reliance on Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is beyond explanation and is arguably holding Les Bleus back in World Cup qualification. A more reliable alternative must be found.
Although there is not a great deal of talent to choose from, certainly less than in past generations, there are still enough in-form strikers who should perhaps get a chance in Benzema’s place in the two upcoming qualifiers against Georgia and Belarus.
There are also some others who could put Benzema under pressure if they get back to full fitness and play regularly.
Here are some of the candidates that Deschamps has to choose from at present.
FC Lorient’s Jeremie Aliadiere has not even represented France at senior level before and could still elect to play for Algeria through family ties.
But the 30-year-old was arguably close to receiving a call-up for Deschamps’ squad for the tour of South America earlier this year until an untimely injury put paid to those hopes.
That potential selection was coming on the back of 15 goals in 31 games for a mid-table Lorient side, the best return of an injury-hit career to-date.
But Aliadiere has only scored one goal so far this season, and has been in and out of the first team. Deschamps likely feels that he is not a reliable enough option this close to the World Cup, particularly given his age.
A candidate for the dubious award for the most out of form player internationally, Benzema is currently enduring a barren run of 1155 minutes, almost 20 hours, without an international goal.
He has bagged two in three matches for Real Madrid so far this season, a good start for a player who only scored 11 times in 30 appearances last year having tallied 21 the year before.
Benzema’s struggles internationally should have resulted in him being dropped a long time ago, but Deschamps’ loyalty to the 25-year-old has now turned from being admirable to borderline inept.
However, Benzema is at least playing games. The same cannot be said of former Les Bleus squad regular Bafetimbi Gomis.
Following a messy summer, Olympique Lyonnais now look like they have swallowed a substantial amount of pride and will reintegrate the 28-year-old according to ESPN FC. Gomis had found himself out of the team and playing football for the reserves after failing to find a new club at the end of last season.
He netted 16 goals in 37 games last year, enjoying a particularly strong first half of the season. At the moment Gomis’ World Cup hopes are in jeopardy though until he starts to play games again.
One player back in the reckoning for France now that he has got the move away from Paris Saint-Germain that he was craving is Kevin Gameiro.
Two goals in three league matches for Sevilla FC, although both came in the same game against Malaga, indicate a player who is starting to thrive when given the responsibility of being a leading figure.
Eight strikes in just seven starts last year for PSG, making a big contribution to the 12-point gap over fierce rivals Marseille at the end of the year, demonstrated that he was capable of doing so domestically and in Europe.
However, he was rarely given the chance to do so on the continental stage and is having to rebuild his reputation in Seville.
Perhaps it is a little too soon to think about an international recall, but Gameiro is certainly one to watch as he continues to rebuild his career.
One player who has not yet been called up yet by Deschamps, but perhaps deserves a chance, is TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Anthony Modeste.
The former French under-21 international has scored three goals in his first four Bundesliga games for his German employers.
After netting 15 times in 36 games on loan at SC Bastia in Ligue 1 last season, it is somewhat surprising that goal-shy Girondins de Bordeaux thought they could do without his contribution this season and sold him.
Recalled to the French side for the first time since 2010, Deschamps will have had to eat some humble pie in order to have been able to call on Gignac once again.
The 27-year-old has scored three goals in four Ligue 1 games so far this season, moving his Olympique de Marseille team up to second after winning three of their four opening fixtures.
Having scored 13 times in 31 games last year, his highest total since 2008-2009 when he hit 24 for Toulouse FC, Gignac is in his best form of recent years.
As Arsenal FC’s main goal-scoring threat, this man has started the new English Premier League season in fine form and has three goals from three league games.
Giroud netted 11 times in 34 appearances last year, but he took some time to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League following his move from Ligue 1 side Montpellier Herault Sport Club. Now more familiar with English football, he has been able to hit the ground running.
At present, the 26-year-old has only netted three times in 20 appearances for Les Bleus. However, he is in much better form than Benzema and arguably deserves to start in Friday’s clash with Georgia in Tbilisi.
Emmanuel Riviere-the Missing Piece?
The man to solve Deschamps’ goal-scoring woes could be emerging just in the nick of time though.
Emmanuel Riviere is the Frenchman who is currently keeping Colombian superstar Radamel Falcao out of the headlines in the Principality.
The 23-year-old has scored five goals from four appearances, only two of which were starts, putting El Tigre’s three goals (including one penalty) in the shade.
It is perhaps too early to assume that this impressive form will continue throughout the season, particularly given the chronic inconsistency that has blighted his development since his AS Saint-Etienne days.
However, super-sub or not, Riviere is French and is scoring goals. Should the French youth international still be in such hot form heading into the final qualifying match against Finland in Paris, Deschamps must seriously consider the possibility of promoting him to the senior set-up.