5 France Players Whose Stock Fell at 2014 World Cup
Although there were no obvious underperformers for France at this summer’s FIFA World Cup, there are a number of players in the squad whose stock has fallen.
Either as a result of average performances or simply the preferences of coach Didier Deschamps, those players’ future roles in the team—certainly the starting XI—are now up for debate.
A lack of options in some areas will preclude Les Bleus’ tactician from changing all of those who have seen their value drop somewhat in Brazil. However, the majority of names on this list will either find themselves on the fringes of the team or perhaps left out of the next squad for the friendlies against Spain and Serbia in September.
Here are five French players whose stock fell at this summer’s World Cup.
Karim Benzema cannot be definitively placed in one of the five positions on this list because the Real Madrid man’s stock rose at the start of the tournament. Three goals and two assists against Honduras and Switzerland had the 26-year-old looking like a genuine candidate for player of the tournament, but that form fell away once France reached the latter stages.
His stock fell after the 0-0 draw with Ecuador because his performances against both Nigeria and Germany were markedly lower than against the three other opponents France faced in Brazil.
Although that puts him in no worse a position than the one he was in before the tournament, his stock is not necessarily higher after his goals and assists in two of France’s three easiest World Cup encounters. The disappointment at his latter stage disappearing act will linger for some time.
Franck Ribery, who was not missed in Brazil despite pre-tournament predictions of a struggle in his absence, also saw his stock fall.
5. Loic Remy
Prior to the World Cup, Queens Park Rangers’ Loic Remy was seen as an intelligent selection from Deschamps because of his versatility and direct approach. However, the 27-year-old only featured twice as a substitute and is clearly not as big a part of the 45-year-old’s plans as was originally thought.
Remy is a valuable player to have in the squad because of his versatility and good all-round attacking play. He appears to be very much a squad player in Deschamps’ thinking, though, and he will be disappointed that he was only given two cameo appearances in Brazil when France arguably needed greater variety going forward.
With so many wide-attacking talents coming through, Remy could find himself out of the next few French squads.
4. Mathieu Debuchy
Now undoubtedly Deschamps’ first-choice right-back, Mathieu Debuchy is still seen as the weak link in this France side. The Newcastle United man is an attacking threat, but he is often a defensive concern, which was illustrated by the fact that he was pinpointed as the most exploitable position by almost every single opponent that France faced.
This is one of the remaining weak points of this France team and is something that Deschamps will look to address in the future. However, the problem is that the French have little or no new talent coming through in this position to challenge Debuchy or Bacary Sagna.
What could happen instead is that Deschamps looks at the way he lines his midfield up and tries something similar to his tactics in the 5-2 win over Switzerland, which saw Moussa Sissoko playing on the right of the midfield three to give Debuchy extra cover.
3. Olivier Giroud
Despite his excellent form in France’s three warm-up matches ahead of the World Cup, Olivier Giroud did not have the impact he was expected to have for Les Bleus in Brazil. The Arsenal man was confined largely to the role of a substitute, and after scoring in the 5-2 thrashing of Switzerland, failed to add to his tally in his two starts in South America.
It is clear from this summer’s tournament that Giroud is still seen as second best by Deschamps, and the 27-year-old can expect that to continue as long as Benzema continues to get selected. However, Giroud is like Debuchy in that there is very little in the way of new talent coming through to potentially push him out of his position.
The French. No 9 should continue with the squad, but he will almost certainly continue to play second fiddle to Benzema despite the pair proving that they can play together to great effect when given the chance.
2. Laurent Koscielny
Giroud's Arsenal team-mate Laurent Koscielny is in a similar position to the striker. Prior to the tournament, after Deschamps had made his 23-man squad announcement, it was expected that the 28-year-old would start in central defence alongside either Raphael Varane or Mamadou Sakho.
In reality, the latter pair were preferred by Deschamps for the majority of games, and they are clearly the first-choice centre-back pairing for the French moving forward.
Despite good showings when given the chance in Brazil, many will point to the fact that France conceded twice in a short space of time after he was introduced against Switzerland and one came directly from a free-kick that he conceded. The Varane-Sakho partnership only conceded once—Mats Hummels’ goal for Germany in Les Bleus’ quarter-final defeat—during the rest of the tournament.
With so many talented central defenders coming through and Koscielny being one of the older—although not necessarily more experienced—members of the squad, Deschamps might look to replace him with one of Aymeric Laporte, Kurt Zouma or Samuel Umtiti in the future.
1. Patrice Evra
Despite performing reasonably well and consistently for France in Brazil, Patrice Evra’s time as an international is clearly almost over. At 33 years old, the Manchester United man will be 35 by the time the 2016 UEFA European Championship rolls around, and he does not offer enough to be sure of his role in the team anymore.
Perhaps there is still a squad role available for him as Deschamps trusts him implicitly, but the emergence of AS Monaco’s Layvin Kurzawa means there are alternative options available to the coach if he wants to consider them.
Evra’s experience might be enough to keep his position within the group in a role similar to that played by Mickael Landreau in Brazil, but Paris Saint-Germain’s Lucas Digne is expected to take over his starting role sooner rather than later.