Picking an Uncapped France XI

Andrew GibneyFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2014

Picking an Uncapped France XI

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    Francois Mori/Associated Press

    Sometimes, it seems as if the French national team has an embarrassment of riches at its disposal. Didier Deschamps picked his 30-man squad last week, and even with the omissions of Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy, he was still able to pick a very strong squad—the 23 players who will be on the plane to Brazil are all at a very high level.

    By adding in the impressive youth squads, France have an extremely healthy and vibrant national team setup.

    There are some areas of the pitch that France look absolutely stacked in: central defence being one of them. Kurt Zouma, Samuel Umtiti and Aymeric Laporte are all pushing through from the under-21 side and doing their best to put pressure on the current senior side.

    In the midfield, you only have to look at Morgan Schneiderlin to see that some very good players can get overlooked for years before they get a chance to prove themselves in the national team.

    Here is a XI made up of players who have never represented Les Bleus at the senior level. Some of them still have a chance to make that breakthrough, but for others it is a case of bad timing, and their chance has gone.

GK: Benoit Costil

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Benoit Costil has been easily one of the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1 this year. Don’t let his good looks fool you; the Olivier Giroud lookalike is all business. There were calls for the Rennes goalkeeper to be selected before Stephane Ruffier as France’s goalkeeping understudy, but the Saint-Etienne ‘keeper got the nod from Deschamps.

    He always shows a great command of his area: He is quick and a great shot-stopper. Perhaps once Mickael Landreau hangs up his gloves this summer there might be a chance for Costil. It would be a disappointment for everyone at the Breton club if the 26-year-old wasn’t able to build upon the two youth-level caps he earned back in 2008.

RB: Sebastien Corchia

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    After years of staving off the threat of relegation, Sochaux have finally dropped to Ligue 2 and with it any chance they had of keeping right-back Sebastien Corchia. His failed move to Lille in January could be back on this summer, per Sky Sports, and never has a player deserved a move more than the 23-year-old.

    It is time for the defender to graduate from being the under-21 captain to a full member of the national team. Still behind Mathieu Debuchy and Bacary Sagna, once he is playing for a bigger-name club it won’t be long till he earns his first full international cap.

    He is an excellent defender but adds so much more to his game when allowed to break forward; he is perfectly suited to how France play. All he lacks now is experience at the highest level.

LB: Layvin Kurzawa

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    This young French full-back has been a revelation this season. Layvin Kurzawa managed to turn the attention away from the millions spent on Radamel Falcao and Joao Moutinho and broke through into the Monaco first team, becoming one of their most impressive players.

    There was talk of Kurzawa being called into Deschamps' 30-man squad, but for now he will have to be content with a place in the under-21s. If he continues to shine for club and country, he is almost a certainty to be part of the France squad for the 2016 European Championship.

CB: Loic Perrin

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    Thibault Camus/Associated Press

    It is almost criminal that Loic Perrin has never been capped for France. His last international appearance was for the under-21s back in 2005, and even then he only managed four caps for Les Espoirs.

    Now at the ripe old age of 28, he has played over 200 games for Saint-Etienne. He is the club captain and epitomises everything that is likeable about Les Verts. Perrin is no-nonsense, he is calm and collected on the pitch, but you can see the passion burning through him.

    Perhaps the reason for his longtime exclusion has been down to his versatility, not deemed strong enough in one position to get the call.

    Now as a regular in Saint-Etienne’s defence, he has been selected as a reserve for the World Cup squad; no one deserves a cap more after the wonderful season he has enjoyed.

CB: Aymeric Laporte

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    After the last round of international friendlies, Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte was around the seventh or eighth central defender in line for a place in the senior national team. It seems crazy that a player who has been playing at such a high level for his club side would be so far down the pecking order, but it shows how strong France are in defence.

    It won’t be long until Laporte is a contender: He has made it up to the under-21 side already, and it is likely that after the World Cup he will be a favourite to make the squad for 2016. He definitely won’t stay uncapped for long.

CM: Florent Balmont

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    Michel Spingler/Associated Press

    Florent Balmont’s opportunity for a France cap has all but certainly passed him by, but there have definitely been points in his career when no one deserved it more.

    When Lille won the Ligue 1 title in 2011, the midfield trio of Rio Mavuba, Yohan Cabaye and Balmont was one of the best tridents in European football. Two out of the three have featured for France, and it is a shame that the bulldog never got his shot.

    No one in Ligue 1 this season had more shots on goal without finding the back of the net; he also managed to provide seven assists as Lille finished third. Even at 34 years old, he is still the force that pushes Les Dogues forward, and it is going to take a brave person to tell Balmont his time as a footballer is up.

CM: Morgan Schneiderlin

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    His call-up to the national team has been a long time in the making, and his inclusion in Deschamps’ 30-man squad is the least Morgan Schneiderlin deserves for all his excellent play as Southampton have risen through the England league.

    From League One to the Premier League, Schneiderlin has been a huge part of Southampton’s success, and his ability to adapt and excel should have been picked up by France a lot sooner. At 24 years old he still has the time to have a long and prosperous international career, but he should have over 20 caps already.

    Once he does get his first opportunity, only a fool would bet against him becoming a successful international player.

CM: Gregory Sertic

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    Claude Paris/Associated Press

    One of Ligue 1’s most underrated players this season, Sertic finished fourth in the league with 10 assists; that puts him just behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, James Rodriguez and Lucas Moura—not the worst company to be named beside.

    Everything about Bordeaux’s season was mediocre except Sertic. He is a wonderful passer of the ball, he can pull the trigger from distance and has the physical attributes to prove influential against any midfield in the league.

    Although he has played for the French under-21 side, he applied for permission to play for Croatia through his grandfather; with that request denied by FIFA, his only hope now is France.

RW: Romain Hamouma

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    Laurent Cipriani/Associated Press

    It must have been hard for Romain Hamouma to watch as team-mates Loic Perrin, Stephane Ruffier and Benoit Tremoulinas were picked as part of Didier Deschamps’ reserves for the World Cup.

    All three of them enjoyed excellent seasons, but a huge part of where Saint-Etienne finished was down to Hamouma, and it seems many have forgotten that.

    Finishing the season with nine goals and seven assists is a great return for the 27-year-old, but perhaps the quiet second half of the season hampered his chances of an international appearance. Just when France struggled to find an effective option on the right flank, Hamouma could have been the solution.

LW: Remy Cabella

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    Claude Paris/Associated Press

    Despite Montpellier’s poor season, midfield playmaker Remy Cabella continued to flourish at the Stade de la Mosson. He finished the season with 14 goals and five assists, and his profile has never been higher.

    He is likely to move on this summer, with various clubs interested in acquiring his services, per the Mirror. He is on the list of reserves for Deschamps’ World Cup squad, and he would be an exciting option if he was to travel to Brazil.

    Being blessed with superb ball control and an ability to conjure up moments of magic from almost nothing makes him a very exciting player to watch. It won’t be long till he wins his first cap: It may not happen in Brazil, but watch for him to blossom further before the 2016 Euros.

CF: Wissam Ben Yedder

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    Michel Euler/Associated Press

    The diminutive Wissam Ben Yedder was part of the group of under-21 players who broke curfew after a match against Norway in 2012. His international ban concluded on the same day as Antoine Griezmann's, but there has been little talk of the Toulouse forward making a similar step up.

    Amazingly and slightly under the radar, Ben Yedder has finished the season with 16 goals: Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed to equal his record of two hat-tricks this campaign. As Toulouse stutter along, the interest in the former futsal international is going to grow, as will his opportunity to line up for his country.