Predicting the France Squad 60 Days from the 2014 World Cup

Andrew Gibney@@gibney_aFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2014

Predicting the France Squad 60 Days from the 2014 World Cup

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    France line up for the friendly against Netherlands.
    France line up for the friendly against Netherlands.Christophe Ena

    We are 60 days from the World Cup, and Didier Deschamps will likely have already figured out the majority of the team he will take to Brazil in hopes of banishing the memories of 2010 and going on to lift the trophy.

    Deschamps took over from Laurent Blanc after the elimination to Spain at Euro 2012, and the former Marseille coach has done a great job in steadying the French ship and bringing respect back to the senior national team.

    Qualifying in a group that included the current World Champions was always going to be tough, and with Spain topping the group as expected, France had to tackle Ukraine in a two-legged play-off.

    It would be one of Deschamps' toughest tests as France coach. After losing 2-0 away from home, the World Cup-winning captain had to call upon all his experience to turn it around. In a memorable night in the Stade de France, Deschamps’ side showed incredible spirit and self-belief to beat Ukraine 3-0 amidst a raucous atmosphere. It will go down as one of the defining moments in French football history.

    The base of the team that secured the ticket to Brazil via the play-off will be close to the side that moves on to the tournament. There is an excellent blend of youth and experience, with some newly capped players pushing for a start rather than just a place on the bench.

    Let’s take a look to what the final 23-man list will probably look like.

Notable Mentions

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    Samir Nasri is due to miss out on Deschamps squad.
    Samir Nasri is due to miss out on Deschamps squad.Michel Euler

    Samir Nasri: Manchester City

    There is no denying Samir Nasri’s ability on the pitch; some of his performances for Manchester City this season have been superb. His goal in the Capital One Cup final against Sunderland acted as a “remember me” notice to Didier Deschamps after he was excluded from the squad for the Netherlands friendly.

    The reason Nasri will likely miss out on a place is due to his behaviour and off-the-field attitude. The player has made it known that he has changed and wants to redeem himself, but it is all a little too late. France can’t afford any bad attitudes in this tournament and it is too much of a risk for Deschamps to take Nasri to Brazil. One off games would be fine, but having a player like Nasri around a squad for a few weeks is too much of a risk after his previous indiscretions.

    Alexandre Lacazette: Olympique Lyonnais

    With the season that Alexandre Lacazette has enjoyed for Lyon, there is not much else he could really have done to earn a place in Didier Deschamps' squad. He is the top French goalscorer in Ligue 1, and has scored more goals than all of his previous seasons for Lyon combined.

    Lacazette’s performances have been nothing short of superb. On top of his 14 Ligue 1 goals, his displays in the Europa League helped Lyon get to the quarter-final stage. Unfortunately, he is still behind Loic Remy in the pecking order. Only a tremendous end to the season is likely to change Deschamps' mind.

Hugo Lloris: Tottenham Hotspur (Goalkeeper)

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    Christophe Ena

    There is little doubt that Spurs' goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, will be lining up as captain when France take on Honduras in their opening game of the 2014 World Cup.

    There are rumours that he is slightly unhappy with the direction of Spurs under Tim Sherwood, so he will be happy to get away from the pressure of the Premier League and return to his role as national team captain with France.

    Since leaving Lyon in 2012, Lloris has improved his game even further in England. He provides a second layer of defence behind the back four, one of the best “sweeper-keepers” in modern-day football, and he is easily one of the first names on both domestic and international team sheets.

    Lloris is not the most vocal of players on the pitch, which made his a surprise choice when Didier Deschamps named him captain. However, what he does bring is stability, maturity and unheralded experience. Lloris is the perfect man to have as your last line of defence.

Steve Mandanda: Olympique de Marseille (Goalkeeper)

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    For so long now, Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda has been back-up to France captain Hugo Lloris. There have been times when it would have made sense to give Mandanda his chance between the posts, but Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc before him decided to stick with the former Lyon ‘keeper.

    For the first time in a long time there are doubts over Mandanda’s form, but that won’t stop him being included in Deschamps’ 23-man-squad.

    Last season, as Marseille finished in second place behind Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, the outstanding displays by Mandanda were one of the main reasons behind OM’s success. Toward the end of the campaign he recorded seven consecutive clean sheets, including an impressive display in the superb 0-0 draw away at Lille in which the 29-year-old made save after save to keep les Dogues at bay.

    Despite Marseille’s failings, Mandanda deserves his place in the squad. He is still the best goalkeeper in France, just not the best French goalkeeper.

Mickael Landreau: SC Bastia (Goalkeeper)

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    Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images

    When the opening game kicks off, Bastia goalkeeper, Mickael Landreau will be the ripe old age of 35, but there are few that will disagree with his choice as France’s third choice gardien this summer.

    In 2011, Lille OSC unexpectedly won the Ligue 1 title, with Landreau in superb form for the whole campaign. Time and time again he would come to Lille’s rescue, making some wonderful last ditch saves to aid his team.

    The former FC Nantes and Paris Saint-Germain ‘keeper left the northern club under somewhat of a cloud—the rumoured falling out with Lille boss Rudi Garcia was never fully disclosed, but the veteran stopper took the chance to join Corsican side Bastia on a free transfer.

    On the island, Landreau has continued to show his worth. In December, he broke the record for the most appearances in France’s top flight, overtaking Monaco goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ettori. He will end the season with total of around 618 appearances.

    Landreau's presence in Brazil will be mostly as an experienced campaigner, there in more of an off-field role, and there to keep the peace and serenity that the France squad sometimes lacks.

Patrice Evra: Manchester United (Left-Back)

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    Harry Engels/Getty Images

    One of the most controversial players in the France squad, yet undoubtedly one of Didier Deschamps' guaranteed picks for the first-team this summer.

    Ever since the disastrous events in Knysna during the last World Cup in South Africa, Patrice Evra’s place in the France squad has been a continually heated topic for debate. For every point made against Evra’s inclusion in the France squad, there are counter-arguments and rebuttals backing up the former Monaco left-back.

    He has an awful sense of timing off the pitch: that interview with French station, Telefoot, which included a foul-mouthed rant against some French legends, came on the eve of the play-off against Ukraine. Luckily France qualified, but Evra’s timing did nothing to help the Anti-Evra supporters.

    On the pitch he is still a player of great quality. You don’t play under Sir Alex Ferguson for so long by being sub-par. Even at 32 years old, Evra still tries to play hard on both sides of the game, either bursting forward in attack, or chasing back to help out the defence.

    France have been without a clear heir to the left-back throne for a long time now. The emergence of Lucas Digne is great news for future tournaments. Evra’s international career may be coming to an end, but he is still the best left-back that Deschamps can call upon.

Lucas Digne: Paris Saint-Germain (Left-Back)

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    Armando Franca

    Lucas Digne is one of the best young full-backs that France have produced since Patrice Evra broke through at AS Monaco.

    The 21-year-old made a big money move to Paris Saint-Germain from Lille this summer. Although he may not have started as many games as he would have liked, the experience of training with some of Europe’s best players will have a huge impact on his career for years to come.

    Digne was part of Lille’s first-team at just 18, helping them qualify for the Champions League in 2012. By the end of last season he was an established starter and one of the hottest properties in Ligue 1.

    Didier Deschamps gave Digne his French debut against Netherlands in their most-recent friendly, and after coming on at the break he impressed the Stade de France fans with his exciting, swashbuckling style of play from left-back.

    He will be the perfect understudy for Evra this summer. Digne has a superb left-foot, a wonderful engine and is a stronger and better defensive player than he is given credit for. Should Deschamps have to call upon Digne in Brazil, there would be no one from Lille or Paris doubting that this modern full-back has all the tools needed to succeed.

Bacary Sagna: Arsenal FC (Right-Back)

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    Sergei Grits

    Most of the recent stories surrounding Bacary Sagna have concentrated on his future at Arsenal. The former Auxerre defender’s contract is up this summer, and he will likely move on for free. He is going to have offers from a number of leagues and a return to France isn’t out of the question.

    The contract talks have taken away from the excellent season that Sagna is enjoying this campaign. As Arsenal’s first-choice right-back, Sagna has looked very tough defensively, making the Arsenal right-flank a tough proposition. Even though he is 32 years old, he has still bombed forward and provided another element to the Arsenal attack.

    It is set to be a straight fight between Sagna and Debuchy for the starting right-back spot in Brazil. The Arsenal player missed out on the 2012 European Championships due to injury and will be desperate to make an appearance this summer.

    Debuchy has the slight edge at present, but if Sagna can help Arsenal to fourth place and possibly the FA Cup, then there is a chance he could be in the first eleven come the opening game against Honduras.

Mathieu Debuchy: Newcastle United (Right-Back)

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    Christophe Ena

    This 28-year-old has had a turbulent time since his move to Newcastle United last January. At first, he struggled to cope with the pace and direct style of the opposition in England—a different world from what he had become familiar with at Lille.

    Now, over a year has passed and Debuchy has finally settled into his role as Newcastle United’s starting right-back, and it has helped him to cement his place as Didier Deschamps' preferred right-back in the run up to the World Cup.

    With his confidence visibly increased due to his improved performances in the North-East, there can be no doubt that it has improved his displays as France’s right-back. He is still able to show the attacking side to his game that impressed Alan Pardew into making a bid 16 months ago, but he has also made vast improvements to his defensive contributions.

    Defensively, Sagna still has the advantage over Debuchy, but the former Lille defender adds a much more vibrant option in attack. He loves getting forward and trying to pop up at the back-post with a goal or two, and it’s this that should see him edge out his Arsenal rival come June.

Laurent Koscielny: Arsenal FC (Centre-Back)

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    Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

    There was a slight panic in the French ranks when Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny picked up a straight red card in the first-leg of the play-off against Ukraine. The pending suspension could have meant the former Lorient defender would have missed two of France’s group games this summer.

    Luckily, the centre-back was only given a one-game ban and missed the second-leg as France qualified for the tournament. Now, Koscielny will most likely start as one of France’s two central defenders this summer.

    Koscielny has this season struck up an excellent partnership with German international Per Mertesacker, and Deschamps will be hoping that he can pair up with his French team-mates in the same way and use his pace, strength and outstanding presence to command the defence into a well-organised unit.

    Koscielny’s place in the squad is not even up for debate—the only thing that would keep him out is a serious injury. The big question for Deschamps is who he picks to line up beside the Arsenal man.

Raphael Varane: Real Madrid (Centre-Back)

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    Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

    Ever since Raphael Varane made the jump from RC Lens to European giants Real Madrid, the young defender has made great leaps in becoming one of the most-desired talents in his position. He was supposed to have joined as a squad player with potential, but he has defied everyone by establishing himself as one of Real Madrid’s best defenders.

    Varane’s recent progress has been somewhat stunted by a spate of unfortunate injuries. The 20-year-old has only managed eight starts for the Spanish giants this season. Luckily for France, he made his return to action in February and will get enough games before the end of the season to get up to full match fitness.

    Deschamps will be hoping that a fully-fit Varane will be able to rediscover the form that helped him impress against Barcelona in last season’s Copa del Rey; his man-of-the-match performances helped convince that he was ready to play for Real at the highest level.

    If he can get back to that level, then he could become an important player in the French defence for years to come.

Mamadou Sakho: Liverpool FC (Centre-Back)

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    Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

    When Laurent Blanc took over the France team after the 2010 World Cup, one of the players that benefitted from his management was Mamadou Sakho. The big centre-back was playing for Paris Saint-Germain at the time, and his future looked bright in the French capital.

    It all went a little bit downhill for Sakho in 2012. He struggled to get a game under Carlo Ancelotti—he was pushed behind PSG’s Brazilian contingent and had to make do with playing a cameo role at his boyhood club. This led to Blanc and Deschamps trying out other options in the French defence. The summer move to Liverpool was the change that Sakho needed, and although he had left his hometown he was once again playing first-team football.

    An injury has stopped him for playing as many games as he would like this term, but his early-season form before the end of 2013 helped him to win back his place in the France team.

    Deschamps gave Sakho a start in the crucial play-off against Ukraine, and the Liverpool colossus didn’t disappoint. Needing to win by three clear goals, Sakho popped up to score twice and led the France team on his enormous shoulders. His spirit and desire not to lose inspired his team-mates to victory.

    Injury will likely stop Sakho from winning a starting spot in Deschamps's defence, but his excellent ability and determination will make him a must pick for the 23-man squad.

Eliaquim Mangala: FC Porto (Centre-Back)

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    Remy de la Mauviniere

    In the consciousness of the French public, the career of Eliaquim Mangala has flown mostly under the radar. Although born in the Paris suburb of Colombes, he moved to Belgium when he was five and has never played any form of organised football anywhere in France.

    Not until his first cap for the senior national team did Mangala make a mark on the French public, with only two caps to his name so far, for some he will be a surprise inclusion in Didier Deschamps 23-man squad.

    However, with his name constantly linked with moves to Manchester City and Chelsea, the French public will realise that the 23-year-old possesses some excellent attributes and is possibly deserving of a place in the squad.

    Mangala can play anywhere along the back-line, but is at his best when playing centrally. He combines great strength with impressive pace and reads the game very well. He was given a rare start for France against Netherlands and looked assured and composed as he kept Manchester United’s Robin van Persie in check for the majority of his performance.

    This show of faith from Didier Deschamps reaffirms his standing within the French squad. He may not have come through at any of France’s biggest sides, but he is definitely one of the most-promising French players that will go to Brazil.

    There is a great chance that if he continues to develop and gets a move to one of Europe’s elite clubs soon, you will see him in France’s starting line-up before the European Championships in 2016. By then, Mangala’s name will be known all over France.

Paul Pogba: Juventus FC (Centre Midfield)

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    Christophe Ena

    This summer’s tournament is all set up to announce Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba on the world stage. Last summer, he was part of the France Under-20 side that became World Champions in Turkey. Now, Pogba will want to become a massive influence on the senior side and banish the memories of the disaster of 2010.

    The 21-year-old central midfielder has been linked with a move to French side Paris Saint-Germain this summer, and Laurent Blanc will be hoping to get a glimpse of the future in Brazil as Pogba teams up with Blaise Matuidi and Yohan Cabaye to create an international midfield trio that would make most nations jealous.

    One issue for France could be the recent form that Pogba has shown. At times it’s easy to forget that he is still very young, and there is the possibility that he will finish the season burnt out from Juventus’ campaign in Serie A and the Europa League.

    In all competitions this season, Pogba has taken part in 42 matches—and could reach 50 before he arrives in Brazil this summer. It is a testament to Pogba’s talent that his importance for France is already being talked about, and Deschamps will hope that he is rested and ready to go come 12 June.

Yohan Cabaye: Paris Saint-Germain (Centre Midfield)

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    Christophe Ena

    Yohan Cabaye’s place in the France World Cup squad has been secure since he made his first appearance after the 2010 tournament. With the full squad suspended for at least one game, Cabaye was called up by Laurent Blanc and used as a substitute in the friendly against Norway.

    Injury stopped him playing regularly, but his move to Newcastle United took his game to the next level. It helped him play in the Euro 2012 qualifiers and secure a squad place for the tournament. His ability to cover the entire midfield, provide defensive cover and the burst forward to create and take chances made him a perfect fit for Blanc’s midfield. Under Deschamps, that has continued to be the case, and Cabaye should be set to start in the opening game after playing a big part in qualifying.

    This winter, Cabaye made the decision to leave England and return to France, joining Paris Saint-Germain for around €20 million. There was no doubt that it was the right move for PSG, who have gained a superb footballer with bags of experience. The problem is that it has stopped Cabaye playing regularly months before the World Cup. He has struggled to force his way into the PSG starting line-up, and he is likely to continue playing a substitute role all the way up until the tournament.

    It’s not ideal for Cabaye and it’s not ideal for Deschamps, but both will hope his move to PSG hasn't negatively affected his form before the summer.

Blaise Matuidi: Paris Saint-Germain (Centre Midfield)

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    Remy de la Mauviniere

    The career of Blaise Matuidi is still hovering slightly under the radar at the moment. The World Cup in Brazil should be a chance for the entire football world to see the absolute gem of a player that Paris Saint-Germain have in their squad.

    Since his move from Saint-Etienne to Paris, the old-fashioned box-to-box midfielder has improved year after year and has been one of the pillars of the Ligue 1 champions. Last season, despite the heroics of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Matuidi was one of the most consistent, impressive players in Ligue 1 and just missed out in lifting the biggest individual awards. There is little doubt he deserved them.

    With few exceptions, Matuidi shows his boundless energy and desire to give 100 per cent for his side in almost every game he plays. Without question, he is a born leader, and commands every midfield that he is ever part of. He has become an automatic pick for Deschamps’ France side, and he is growing with every international game that he plays.

    Cabaye is the name that most fans will instantly know, Pogba is the name that football fans will want to see more of, but it just might be that Blaise Matuidi is the French player that gets people talking and becomes a French hero at Brazil this summer.

Maxime Gonalons: Olympique Lyonnais (Centre Midfield)

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    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    Back when Lyon were the Kings of French football, it would be no surprise if the captain of Les Gones was called up for the World Cup. Now, with the crown having slipped, their current captain, Maxime Gonalons, is fighting for a place in Didier Deschamps' squad this summer.

    The last cap Gonalons won was back in August 2012, in what was actually Didier Deschamps first game in charge of the national team.

    There is no real reason for Gonalons exclusion, he played the full match against Uruguay and impressed in the defensive-midfield role. Now, there is a space up for grabs in the France squad and Gonalons should be the best placed to win that spot on the plane.

    Deschamps will want to take one more defensive-minded midfielder and with an injury to Rio Mavuba ruling him out of the friendly against Netherlands, there is definitely space for Gonalons to step in.

    This season, he has been instrumental in Lyon’s resurgence back up the table and been a key part of their Europa League run. Playing at the base of Remi Garde’s diamond midfield, he would be the perfect squad player for the World Cup.

    Saint-Etienne midfielder Josuha Guilavogui is his main rival for the place, but when it comes to experience, ability and mentality, Gonalons is the stand out candidate and should be in Deschamps thoughts for a place in the 23-man squad.

Moussa Sissoko: Newcastle United (Centre Midfield)

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    Sergei Chuzavkov

    The former Toulouse midfielder has been an integral part of the France set-up under Didier Deschamps. Many of his own fans will question his inclusion, but Moussa Sissoko isn’t just in the squad as a normal central midfielder. His form for Newcastle United hasn’t been as impressive in the last eight months, but his physical attributes and presence have made him a must pick for Deschamps.

    Where someone like Samir Nasri falls down, Sissoko excels. The 24-year-old brings a whole new dimension to the France midfield. With pace to chase the ball down, he also adds a strong physique to try and bully opposition midfielders and is an all-action player—the type that France don’t have a huge number of at present.

    The other difference between Sissoko and Nasri is the mental side of the game. Where Nasri cannot be trusted to behave in a squad set up, Sissoko is someone that Deschamps can trust. He won’t cause any problems, he won’t speak out of turn and he will be a positive influence to everyone in the squad.

    The Sissoko effect will be crucial with 20-25 minutes left in matches when the play is stretched and the opposition are struggling to keep the game tight. His energy and drive will open up doors, attributes that are going to be crucial during the tournament.

Clement Grenier: Olympique Lyonnais (Attacking Midfield)

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    The spot reserved for Clement Grenier in the France squad is potentially up for grabs, but until he is unable to take the call, the Lyon midfielder is holding on to it for dear life.

    Grenier was called up for the most-recent friendly against Netherlands, but injury ruled him out. Now, the same injury could potentially stop him from joining the squad this summer. It’s unclear who would take his place, with Samir Nasri and Remy Cabella the favourites for the attacking-midfield position.

    There is still a great chance that the 23-year-old will regain enough fitness to return to the Lyon side this season and get a number of games under his belt before Deschamps has to make a decision.

    The playmaker has enjoyed an excellent season for Les Gones, notching four goals and four assists in 24 appearances. Grenier would be a great option off the bench for Deschamps—he can find a pass, has an excellent creative touch and is a constant threat from dead-ball situations.

    If fit, Grenier deserves a place in the squad. It’s now up to the player to get back to fitness and get on the plane.

Mathieu Valbuena: Olympique de Marseille (Attacking Midfield)

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    Michel Euler

    Throughout the World Cup qualifying campaign, the play of Mathieu Valbuena was vital to France’s performances and the Marseille midfielder became a critical part of Didier Deschamps set up. At one point, it would have been impossible to imagine a France side without the talismanic midfielder.

    In the first-leg play-off against Ukraine, Valbuena was dropped to the bench and France lost. He regained his place for the second-leg and put in another important performance, showing Deschamps that he made a mistake in dropping the diminutive playmaker. It is likely a key lesson learned for the France coach, and a mistake he won’t want to make again.

    The problem for Deschamps and Valbuena now is the current form of the 29-year-old. It has been a tough season for everyone at Marseille, and for a player like Valbuena who wears his heart on his sleeve, you can see that OM’s poor form is clearly affecting him on the pitch.

    There is no way that Deschamps won’t include Valbuena in the 23-man squad, it’s more the question of whether he makes the starting XI or not. Luckily for Valbuena, there is still time to swing the momentum and get his groove back before the flight to Brazil.

Karim Benzema: Real Madrid (Centre-Forward)

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    Christophe Ena

    The recent scoring drought is a distant memory for Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema. After going 1,222 minutes without scoring for France, the former Lyon striker found the back of the net in the friendly against Australia.

    During the drought, both Benzema and Deschamps had come under a lot of criticism about the striker's place in the France squad. Game after game the French coach stuck with him and France struggled to impress with Benzema leading the line.

    The goal breathed life into the forward's international career. Benzema was a hero during the second-leg against Ukraine—he scored the second goal and brought France level on aggregate. He then followed this up with a wonderful goal against the Netherlands, and his drought is a distant memory.

    Part of the reason that Deschamps continued to stick with Benzema was because of his club form at Real Madrid. His overall record in La Liga is 72 goals in 155 games, a wonderful strike rate for any international striker, and one that kept you believing that he would eventually end his awful run.

    His recent form for France should see him start the opening game against Honduras, and Deschamps and the France fans will hope that another drought is a long, long way away.

Olivier Giroud: Arsenal FC (Centre-Forward)

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Two years ago, Olivier Giroud’s career was absolutely flying at the highest point. He was on the verge of winning the Ligue 1 title with Montpellier and months away from a big money move to the English Premier League.

    Now, his life in England has not been the most comfortable. Rumours about his private life have been plastered all over the British media and the confidence that the Arsenal fans have in his ability seems to drop game by game. There is no doubt that he will be part of Didier Deschamps' squad in June, but the big question regards how much playing time he will get.

    His poor form perhaps came at the worst possible time. When Benzema was going through his dry spell, Giroud failed to make his mark on the national team. To date, the former Tours striker has only scored five times for France. Over 26 games, that record is just not good enough.

    Giroud should have played more for France, and he should have been given more chances to lead the line in the same way that Benzema was. Unfortunately that has not been the case, and he has had to make do with playing a substitute role.

    If he does get the chance to impress in Brazil, it’s a chance he needs to take with both hands. If not, it could be cameo roles for the rest of his international career.

Antoine Griezmann: Real Sociedad (Forward)

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    Christophe Ena

    Antoine Griezmann is playing catch-up with his international career this year. The truth is that at this point he should have more than one cap for France. He will continue to make his mark going into the final friendlies leading up to the World Cup, but mistakes made in his youth meant he only made his international debut in March.

    As part of the Under-21 side trying to qualify for the 2012 European Championships, Griezmann decided to join a handful of team-mates in celebrating their 1-0 win over Norway in Le Havre by taking a 300 mile taxi journey to Paris. The price he has since had to pay has dwarfed any expensive drink orders he may have made in Parisian nightclubs that evening.

    France would go on to lose the second-leg 5-3. The players were severely reprimanded and Griezmann was given a year ban from any French national teams. With the ban finishing on 31 December, Deschamps called the Real Sociedad forward into his squad as soon as he could, and it’s his form with the Spanish club that has won him a place in the squad.

    Last season, he scored 10 goals as he helped Sociedad qualify for the Champions League. This season, he has been even better, scoring 15 goals and putting in a series of superb performances. With an excellent ability to take on defenders at pace and ghost in behind the back-line to find the back of the net, he will be a great option for Deschamps in Brazil.

Franck Ribery: Bayern Munich (Forward)

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    Christophe Ena

    It’s hard to imagine a France team without the Bayern Munich winger. Franck Ribery is one of the most-talented players in Didier Deschamps' squad, the only problem being that he has never quite matched his club form wearing les Bleus' jersey.

    Brazil 2014 will possibly be his last international tournament for France. At 31 years old, he could miss out on the next tournament squad if he can’t match the pace, skill and performances that he has shown in the Bundesliga in recent years.

    Ribery is guaranteed a place in the squad and will line up on the left-wing for France's opening game against Honduras. This season hasn’t been his best domestically, with injuries meaning he has only played 19 league games, but he has still scored nine times and contributed 12 assists.

    His injuries have meant that the pressure, for the first time, isn’t fully on Ribery to carry this team to glory, and perhaps that could give the former Marseille winger the freedom to finally put in some wonderful performances for France.

Loic Remy: Newcastle United (Forward)

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    The position of France’s back-up striker is one of the final places that Didier Deschamps will have to decide on for this summer’s squad. The player he picks needs to be able to play both as the central striker and on the wing. Loic Remy ticks both those boxes, and there are a few players trying to nudge him off his perch.

    On loan at Newcastle United from Queen’s Park Rangers, Remy has enjoyed an  impressive season in the Premier League. There have been some injury problems for the former Marseille forward, but he has still managed to score an impressive 13 goals in 22 league games. His ability to find the back of the net has been key to Alan Pardew’s side’s success, with his importance magnified during his recent injury spell.

    Newcastle have only won four times in 2014, with Remy playing in three of those games and missed out on the majority of the defeats. For Newcastle, he has played through the middle, but for France he will most likely be asked to play on the right-wing—a position that he has played before, but a position in which he has been far from convincing.

    Remy’s experience, his goal record and his ability to perform on the biggest stage will be needed off the bench, and that is what Deschamps will ask from him this summer.