France 2014 FIFA World Cup Squad: Player-by-Player Guide
France coach Didier Deschamps was hit with a late double injury headache as both Franck Ribery and Clement Grenier were ruled out of his final 23-man FIFA World Cup squad, just two days before the final warm-up clash with Jamaica in Lille.
The Bayern Munich man finally succumbed to back troubles that have been plaguing him per ESPN FC, while Grenier had to drop out with a groin problem per ESPN FC's Ian Holyman. The changes also mean that three of the original seven reserve players are now part of the final group, with AS Saint-Etienne's Stephane Ruffier an early replacement for Olympique de Marseille's Steve Mandanda who also withdrew injured.
When Deschamps originally unveiled his squad for this summer’s tournament in Brazil, Manchester City’s Samir Nasri did not feature in it as expected. Neither did club teammate Gael Clichy, but Les Bleus still boast plenty of quality ahead of their trip to South America despite their numerous absences.
Les Tricolores have qualified for their 14th World Cup, having had to beat Ukraine in a dramatic two-legged play-off to do so.
In Brazil, France will face Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras in Group E.
Here is the 23-man squad selected by Deschamps.
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Stephane Ruffier (AS Saint-Etienne), Mickael Landreau (SC Bastia), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Lucas Digne (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Eliaquim Mangala (FC Porto), Yohan Cabaye (PSG), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Rio Mavuba (Lille OSC), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique de Marseille), Karim Benzema (Real), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Remy Cabella (Montpellier HSC), Loic Remy (Queens Park Rangers).
Name: Hugo Lloris
Date of Birth: December 26, 1986
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Brief Bio: Lloris started his career with home-town club OGC Nice before moving to Olympique Lyonnais in 2008 after 11 years with Les Aiglons. He made his debut for Les Bleus that same year and was made full-time captain by Laurent Blanc prior to the 2012 UEFA European Championship. After four years—as well as just one Coupe de France and one Trophee des Champions title—Lloris joined Tottenham Hotspur.
Quick-Hit Fact: Lloris was named Ligue 1's best goalkeeper three times in his four full seasons with Les Gones.
Quick-Hit Stat: Brazil this summer will be Lloris' second time representing France at a World Cup.
Name: Stephane Ruffier
Date of Birth: September 27, 1986
Birthplace: Bayonne, France
Club: AS Saint-Etienne
Brief Bio: After starting his career with hometown club Aviron Bayonnais, Ruffier joined principality outfit AS Monaco. He returned to Bayonne for one season in 2005-06 before joining Saint-Etienne in 2011 after Les Monegasques were relegated to Ligue 2 and won the 2012-13 Coupe de la Ligue with Les Verts.
Ruffier represented France’s under-21 side just three times before being called up to the senior side in 2010. He made his debut for Les Bleus against Norway that same year.
Quick-Hit Fact: Born in the heart of France’s Basque Country, Ruffier is Basque and is therefore eligible to the play for the Basque national team and also Atheltic Bilbao.
Quick-Hit Stat: As of March, Ruffier had saved only one of the 21 penalties that he has faced in Ligue 1.
Name: Mickael Landreau
Date of Birth: May 14, 1979
Club: SC Bastia
Brief Bio: Retiring from professional football after France's sojourn in Brazil, Landreau has been a familiar face to French football fans for almost 18 years. He started his career with home-town club FC Nantes—where he won one Ligue 1, two Coupe de France and two Trophee des Champions titles—before joining PSG in 2006 after 13 years with Les Canaris.
Landreau made his debut for Les Bleus in 2001 and was a regular during qualification for the 2008 UEFA European Championship, as well as a squad member in 2006's run to the final.
In his three-year stay in the French capital with PSG, he lifted the Coupe de la Ligue once but enjoyed his greatest success with Lille OSC. In 2011, Landreau was a part of Les Dogues' league and Coupe de France double-winning side.
Quick-Hit Fact: Despite being the oldest member of this France squad, Landreau is the most inexperienced of all the goalkeepers and one of the most inexperienced members of the group.
Quick-Hit Stat: Back in December, Landreau equalled Jean-Luc Ettori's record of 602 appearances in the French top flight. The final match of his illustrious club career (618) will come against formative club Nantes.
Name: Raphael Varane
Date of Birth: April 25, 1993
Club: Real Madrid
Brief Bio: Varane started his career with local club RC Lens in 2002 and made his senior debut in November 2010 aged just 17. He spent nine years in total with Les Sang et Or before joining Spanish giants Real Madrid where he has already won one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey and one Supercopa de Espana.
Varane made his senior debut for Les Bleus in March 2013 in a World Cup qualifier against Georgia, having played at under-18, under-20 and under-21 levels.
Quick-Hit Fact: Although he received an offer from hometown club Lille, Varane opted to sign for their bitter rivals Lens instead.
Quick-Hit Stat: Despite only having five caps to his name, there are four players with less senior international experience than the Real Madrid man in this 23-man France squad (10 if you include reserves).
Name: Mamadou Sakho
Date of Birth: February 13, 1990
Brief Bio: Sakho joined PSG in 2002 and remained at the Parc des Princes until 2013. He made his debut for Les Parisiens in 2007 and went on to become the full-time captain of the team for the 2011-12 season.
In his time with the capital club, he won four trophies—including the Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions—but most importantly he helped PSG end a 19-year wait for their third Ligue 1 title in 2013. Later that year he joined Liverpool.
Sakho made his international debut in November 2010, having worked his way through the French youth ranks. His double against Ukraine at Stade de France last November ensured that Les Bleus qualified for this summer's World Cup.
Quick-Hit Fact: His pair of goals against Ukraine in qualifying were his first and second international goals.
Quick-Hit Stat: Sakho is the youngest ever player to captain PSG at 17 years and eight months old and also the youngest player ever to captain a Ligue 1 side.
Name: Mathieu Debuchy
Date of Birth: July 29, 1985
Club: Newcastle United
Brief Bio: Debuchy joined Lille in 1993, aged just eight. He made his first-team debut 10 years later and was part of the Ligue 1 and Coupe de France double winning side of the 2010-11 season. Debuchy made his France debut in November 2011 and has just completed his first full season with Newcastle after moving there in January 2013.
Quick-Hit Fact: Debuchy started his career as a midfielder before eventually being moved back into defence and his now-familiar right-back role.
Quick-Hit Stat: France have three Newcastle players in their World Cup squad including Debuchy. For the Magpies, this is a record-equalling total in one single World Cup squad (along with the 1958 and 1998 English squads).
Name: Laurent Koscielny
Date of Birth: September 10, 1985
Brief Bio: Koscielny started his career with EA Guingamp having playing for a variety of clubs as a youngster. After a successful spell with the Bretons, he moved to Tours FC in 2007 and spent two years there.
FC Lorient was the next stop for Koscielny, who stayed for only 12 months before joining Arsenal in 2010. One year after moving to north London, Laurent Blanc called him up to the France squad for the friendly against Brazil in February 2011.
Quick-Hit Fact: Similarly to former FC Metz, Lille OSC and Girondins de Bordeaux star Ludovic Obraniak—as well as OGC Nice's Timothee Koldziejczak—Koscielny was actually eligible to represent Poland. He is thought to have considered applying for Polish citizenship ahead of Euro 2012 before deciding to pledge his allegiance to France.
Quick-Hit Stat: Having only started once at the 2012 European Championship, this will be Koscielny's first major international tournament involvement.
Name: Lucas Digne
Date of Birth: July 20, 1993
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Brief Bio: Digne started his senior career in 2011, having joined Lille in 2005. After just two years with Les Dogues, he joined Ligue 1 champions PSG for €15million. In his first season in the French capital, he won the Ligue 1, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions titles.
Digne made his senior French debut earlier this year against the Netherlands and was a member of the Under-20 World Cup-winning French side in Turkey last year.
Quick-Hit Fact: With just one cap to his name, Digne—along with Antoine Griezmann—are the least experienced players in Deschamps' 23-man squad.
Quick-Hit Stat: Digne has only the third highest number (4.8) of crosses per match out of eight potential World Cup squad candidates, yet was selected when the the two ahead of him—Sebastien Corchia and Benoit Tremoulinas—only made the reserves at best.
Name: Eliaquim Mangala
Date of Birth: February 13, 1991
Club: FC Porto
Brief Bio: Mangala was signed by Standard Liege from fourth division side Namur in 2008 and was initially asked to play as a left-back After excelling for the Belgian side and helping them to a Pro League title in his debut season—not to mention a Belgian Cup and two Belgian Supercup titles in the following seasons—he joined Portuguese giants Porto for €7.5million. There Mangala has won two more domestic league titles as well as two Portuguese Supertacas.
Because he lived in Belgium, Mangala went unnoticed by the French national setup until 2009 when he was called up to the under-21 squad; he made his senior debut for Les Bleus in 2013.
Quick-Hit Fact: Mangala possesses a Belgian passport, having lived in the country since he was five. But when the Red Devils came calling in 2008—while at Standard Liege—he did not have the documentation. Because of that, France were able to integrate him into their under-21 setup instead.
Quick-Hit Stat: Based on a statistical comparison of eight potential central defenders for France, Mangala did not figure in the top four candidates.
Name: Bacary Sagna
Date of Birth: February 14, 1983
Brief Bio: Sagna started his career with Auxerre in 1998, making his senior debut for L'AJA in 2004. He remained at Stade de l'Abbe-Deschamps until 2007—winning one Coupe de France and one UEFA Intertoto Cup title—before Arsenal came calling. In that same year, Sagna made his senior debut for France.
Quick-Hit Fact: Unlike Evra—who opted to play for France ahead of his country of birth Senegal—Sagna was keen to represent the African nation instead of Les Bleus. However, the Lions of Ternaga did not respond to a 17-year-old Sagna's plea to join the team until he was already playing for France's under-21 side.
Quick-Hit Stat: Sagna is the fourth most capped player in this summer's World Cup squad with 39.
Name: Patrice Evra
Date of Birth: May 15, 1981
Club: Manchester United
Brief Bio: Evra started his professional career in 1998 with Marsala in Italy after a short and unsuccessful spell with PSG's youth academy. After one year in Sicily, he moved to AC Monza and from there joined French side Nice in 2000. Two years later, Evra joined Cote d'Azur rivals Monaco where he won the Coupe de la Ligue in his first season.
After helping Les Monegasques reach the 2004 Champions League final, he left France to join Manchester United. At Old Trafford, Evra has won five English Premier League, three League Cup and five FA Community Shield titles as well as one UEFA Champions League. He made his senior debut for France in 2004 and captained the side during their ill-fated 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa.
Quick-Hit Fact: Evra started his playing career in attack and not defence. He moved to the left wing before finally becoming a left-back while at Nice early in the 2001-02 season, three years after becoming a professional.
Quick-Hit Stat: He has been named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year three times (twice consecutively) in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Name: Blaise Matuidi
Date of Birth: April 9, 1987
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Brief Bio: A graduate of the prestigious Clairefontaine Academy, Matuidi started his professional career with Troyes AC (ESTAC) after a spell with local club US Creteil-Lusitanos. After three years with ESTAC, he joined Saint-Etienne and was an emerging talent in the French national team setup.
Four years later—in 2011—Matuidi joined boyhood club PSG and is now rightly considered one of Les Bleus' key players. He made his senior international debut in 2010 after proving himself at under-19 and under-21 level.
Quick-Hit Fact: Despite being born in Toulouse, Matuidi was raised in Paris and developed a passion for PSG because of former Nigerian international Jay-Jay Okocha.
Quick-Hit Stat: Matuidi's maiden goal for France back in March was the first scored by a PSG player for Les Bleus since Christophe Jallet in September of 2012.
Name: Rio Mavuba
Date of Birth: March 8, 1984
Birthplace: Born at sea
Club: Lille OSC
Brief Bio: Mavuba started his career with Girondins de Bordeaux—where he stayed for five years and won one Coupe de la Ligue title—before leaving to join Spanish side Villarreal. He lasted only one year in Spain, opting to join Lille in 2008—initially on loan—and has now made more than 200 appearances for Les Dogues, as well as being captain of the team.
He made his senior France debut in 2004, graduating from the under-21 setup.
Quick-Hit Fact: As you can see from his birthplace, Mavuba was born at sea during the Angolan Civil War. His birth certificate reads "born at sea," and he received French nationality in 2004, while at Bordeaux.
Quick-Hit Stat: Although he has played more than 300 Ligue 1 games, Mavuba has scored just five goals. However, he has never been sent off.
Name: Moussa Sissoko
Date of Birth: August 16, 1989
Birthplace: Le Blanc-Mesnil
Club: Newcastle United
Brief Bio: Sissoko joined Toulouse in 2003, having spent two years with Red Star FC sandwiched between two spells with Esperance Aulnay. After being signed by TFC, Sissoko had to wait until 2007 to make his senior debut. Six years later, he left to join English side Newcastle United.
Two years after making his debut for Toulouse, he first appeared for France's senior side after featuring in every one of Les Bleus' youth teams.
Quick-Hit Fact: Ordinarily a central midfielder, Sissoko can play in a holding role and in attack, as well as out wide and in defence. He is France's most versatile player.
Quick-Hit Stat: From the squad selected for the friendly with the Netherlands prior to the World Cup squad being announced, Sissoko had played the most minutes of all of the outfield players included in the group.
Name: Paul Pogba
Date of Birth: March 15, 1993
Brief Bio: A precocious talent at just 21 years of age, Pogba is hot property. He started his career with Ligue 2 side Le Havre but was snapped up by English giants Manchester United before he could even make a single senior appearance. After three frustrating years in England, Pogba joined Italian powerhouse Juventus where he is now thriving.
He has represented France at every youth level—except for the under-21s—and was a member of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup-winning French side of 2013. Pogba has two Serie A and two Supercoppa Italiana titles to his name and made his senior debut in March 2013.
Quick-Hit Fact: Pogba has two older twin brothers who also play football. Florentin plays for Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne, while Mathias plays for English League One side Crewe Alexandra.
Quick-Hit Stat: He has never made a single league appearance in his home country.
Name: Yohan Cabaye
Date of Birth: January 14, 1986
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Brief Bio: Cabaye started his career with Lille in 1998 after rising to prominence with local side Tourcoing FC. His stay with Les Dogues ended in the famous Ligue 1 and Coupe de France double of 2011, after which he joined Newcastle United.
Three years after leaving France, Cabaye returned in January of this year by signing for Championnat titleholders PSG. He added another Ligue 1 title to his collection as well as the Coupe de la Ligue. Cabaye made his senior France debut in 2010, having risen through the youth ranks.
Quick-Hit Fact: Cabaye is of Vietnamese descent, thanks to his paternal grandmother, but was too ingrained in the French youth setup from a young age to have played for the Vietnam national team.
Quick-Hit Stat: Along with Digne and Matuidi, Cabaye is one of three PSG players in this tournament's squad, the joint-highest total for a single club with Arsenal and former club Newcastle.
Name: Morgan Schneiderlin
Date of Birth: November 8, 1989
Birthplace: Obernai, France
Brief Bio: Schneiderlin started his career with fallen local giants RC Strasbourg in 1995, making his debut for the club’s reserve side in 2005. One year later, he made his debut for the senior side as the club succumbed to relegation from Ligue 1. Schneiderlin opted to join Southampton in 2008 and has since become indispensable to the Premier League club. Although he has not featured for France at senior level yet, Schneiderlin has represented Les Bleus in every other age category.
Quick-Hit Fact: Although Schneiderlin has obtained British citizenship; he is actually only able to represent France because he has featured for Les Bleus at every international level.
Quick-Hit Stat: Schneiderlin completed more passes than any other French player in all of the major European leagues in the season just gone.
Name: Mathieu Valbuena
Date of Birth: September 28, 1984
Birthplace: Bruges, France
Position: Midfielder (winger/attacking midfielder)
Club: Olympique de Marseille
Brief Bio: Valbuena has risen to the top from the very bottom of the French footballing pyramid. Rejected by local club Bordeaux as a youth player because of his small size, he had to join FC Libourne early on in his career.
After two impressive years there, Marseille signed Valbuena in 2006, and he has gone on to win one Ligue 1, three Coupe de la Ligue and two Trophee des Champions trophies.
He made his senior France debut in 2010 but did not feature at any other level for Les Bleus prior to that.
Quick-Hit Fact: Valbuena is nicknamed "le Petit Velo" (the little bike) by Marseille fans because of his small size and the fact that OM play at Stade Velodrome. He is also of Spanish origin through his father.
Quick-Hit Stat: Valbuena is the only player to have featured in all 19 of France's games under Deschamps so far.
Name: Antoine Griezmann
Date of Birth: March 21, 1991
Position: Attacker (winger)
Club: Real Sociedad
Brief Bio: Despite having spent his entire professional career in Spain until now, Griezmann was born in France and lived there until he was 14. He joined the Txuri-urdin in 2005, making his debut in 2009.
Since then, Griezmann has helped the Basque side to promotion to La Liga and to Champions League qualification—which ironically came at the expense of French side Lyon—but had to wait until earlier this year to make his senior debut for Les Bleus against the Netherlands after a 12-month suspension for poor behaviour.
Griezmann has been a regular in the French youth setups since he joined the under-19s in 2010.
Quick-Hit Fact: As a youngster, Griezmann was constantly rejected by clubs—including boyhood side Lyon—because of his small size and waif-like physique. Sociedad scouted him while he was on trial with French club Montpellier.
Quick-Hit Stat: Griezmann has scored more braces than any other Real Sociedad player in La Liga since their last top-flight promotion.
Name: Olivier Giroud
Date of Birth: September 30, 1986
Position: Attacker (striker)
Brief Bio: Giroud started his senior career with Grenoble Foot 38 in 2005, having joined the club in 1999. After a successful loan spell with FC Istres, he joined Tours in 2008—where he played with Koscielny for one season—and stayed for two years.
Giroud left in 2010 for Montpellier HSC, where he really hit the heights. After a prolific second season with La Paillade, he joined English side Arsenal.
Giroud made his France debut in 2011, having not represented Les Bleus at any of the youth levels.
Quick-Hit Fact: With 16 league goals to his name this season, Giroud is France's second highest goal scorer in this World Cup squad. Between them, France's five strikers have scored 73 league goals this season—an average of 14.6 per player—making Giroud above average.
Quick-Hit Stat: This season Giroud became the first Frenchman to score 14 or more goals in a Premier League season since former French international Nicolas Anelka managed 19 in 2008-09.
Name: Karim Benzema
Date of Birth: December 19, 1987
Position: Attacker (striker)
Club: Real Madrid
Brief Bio: Benzema is one of the star graduates from Lyon's Centre Tola Vologe and made his debut in 2004, having joined Les Gones in 1996. Five years —and six trophies—after making his OL debut, he opted to join Spanish giants Real Madrid.
There he has won one La Liga, two Copas del Rey and one Supercopa de Espana title so far.
Benzema made his senior France debut in 2007, having represented Les Tricolores from the under-17 level upwards. He is the second highest-capped player in this squad.
Quick-Hit Fact: Benzema has never scored a goal for France in an international tournament (Euro 2008 and Euro 2012) and this will be his first appearance at a World Cup. He is also Les Tricolores' most-capped player in the squad with 65 appearances to his name.
Quick-Hit Stat: Prior to France's 6-0 win over Australia at Parc des Princes last October, Benzema went 1,222 minutes without scoring a goal for Les Bleus (dating from June 2012).
Name: Remy Cabella
Date of Birth: March 8, 1990
Birthplace: Ajaccio, France
Club: Montpellier HSC
Brief Bio: Cabella joined Montpellier in 2004 and although he made his senior debut for La Paillade in 2009, was loaned out to Arles-Avignon the following season. He returned after a fruitful spell in southern France and began to emerge as an important member of the MHSC side that went on to win an improbable Ligue 1 title in 2012. Now without the likes of Olivier Giroud and Younes Belhanda, Cabella has become Montpellier’s key man. Despite being a regular with the French under-21 side up until 2012, Cabella has currently only featured once France at senior level.
Quick-Hit Fact: In 2012, Cabella scored his first-ever senior goal for Montpellier against hometown club AC Ajaccio.
Quick-Hit Stat: Cabella was the most fouled player in Ligue 1 in the season just finished.
Name: Loic Remy
Date of Birth: January 2, 1987
Club: Newcastle United (on loan from Queens Park Rangers)
Brief Bio: After starting his career with ASPTT Lyon, Remy was picked up by local giants Olympique Lyonnais in 1999 and developed in their youth academy. He made his senior debut in 2006, being loaned out to RC Lens before OGC Nice bought him in 2008.
He left Stade Gerland with two Ligue 1 titles and one Trophee des Champions success to his name and impressed in a two-year stint with Les Aiglons. Marseille were sufficiently won over by Remy, and he moved to Stade Velodrome in 2010 where he won one Coupe de la Ligue title and another Trophee des Champions. In 2013, he joined QPR before being loaned to Newcastle after the London club's relegation from the Premier League.
Remy made his senior debut for France in 2009, having played for Les Bleus at under-20 and under-21 level.
Quick-Hit Fact: Remy's 14 league goals was the joint-lowest total—along with Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis—of the seven most prolific French strikers in Europe this season.
Quick-Hit Stat: Remy netted the 1000th Premier League goal this season.