Didier Deschamps looks to have settled on a 4-3-3-cum-4-5-1 formation, which works well with the personnel available to him.
It’s a fairly safe bet at this stage to say that Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Yohan Cabaye will be the starting triumvirate, particularly following their excellent performance in the second leg against Ukraine. The trio provide an excellent blend of power, energy and creativity, and they could well be the platform upon which France impress in Brazil.
Fortunately, France are blessed with talented central-midfielders, and several players could challenge these three.
Moussa Sissoko is a favourite of Deschamps and regularly enters the fray as a substitute to add defensive muscle or attacking drive. He continues to grow into the Premier League, where his talents appear to make him a natural fit, and he is likely to head to Brazil.
This potentially leaves two seats on the plane and a whole clutch of midfielders vying for that spot. If Etienne Capoue can complete his return to fitness at White Hart Lane and impose himself in the Spurs midfield, then his versatility and dynamism would make him an appealing candidate.
Rio Mavuba made his international debut in 2004 but has never made the cut for a tournament squad—the Lille star is an energetic and disciplined performer who could provide a calm head to close down tight contests. Joshua Guilavogui and Geoffrey Kondogbia have both been given opportunities to impress in 2013, but I suspect their key impact may come in the years to come.
Alsace-born Morgan Schneiderlin was the Premier League’s outstanding defensive midfielder last term and has continued his form as part of an excellent Southampton team this season. I have little doubt that he would be an asset to Deschamps’ 23.
Elsewhere, Maxime Gonalons was a regular squad member until the Spain friendly, after which his luck seemed to run out. Samir Nasri was recalled after that Spain clash and has featured sporadically but was a weak link in the first leg against Ukraine. Deschamps may now finally be convinced that the Manchester City is more trouble than he is worth.
In his absence, Marvin Martin or even Yoann Gourcuff could be recalled to act as creative support for Cabaye. Clement Grenier is an intriguing prospect who brings an array of exciting attacking weaponry.
Lassana Diarra and Jeremy Toulalan have become, firmly, the forgotten men of French football, and both should feel free to book their holidays next summer.
I don’t intent to insult anyone’s intelligence by mentioning permanently stricken Abou Diaby, but wonderkid Florian Thauvin could be capable of making a late charge into the squad.