The final stage of the Blues before the World Cup-2022, ultra tight, begins Monday in the shadow of the injured, never so numerous, an opportunity for reinforcements before two meetings of the League of Nations not to be missed against Austria Thursday and Denmark on Sunday.
. Hello Deschamps, sores
Having moved the World Cup to autumn (November 20 – December 18), to dodge the sweltering heat of Qatar, upsets the usual calendar of championships, frozen just before the start of the selections in Doha.
The usual pre-tournament preparation course goes by the wayside this time. And as there will be no international matches in October either, September was to serve as a final trial run for the band of Didier Deschamps.
Alas, the boss of the reigning world champions is drowned in a rain of absences. In addition to that of Paul Pogba, convalescing after his right knee operation, there are other indestructible players missing such as Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez, N’Golo Kanté, Kingsley Coman and Karim Benzema.
The misfortune took an almost comic turn at the end of the week: Adrien Rabiot, not recovered from a muscle injury, gave way to Boubacar Kamara… himself injured on Friday and forced to withdraw, replaced by Jordan Veretout.
. Rookies in ambush
Without this cascade of absences, the Monegasques Benoît Badiashile and Youssouf Fofana would probably not have been invited to the Château de Clairefontaine on Monday. It’s up to them to take advantage of it, because even if their playing time will be limited, they will have the training and group life to express themselves.
Badiashile numerically supplements Kimpembe and Hernandez, left-handed central defenders like him, by doubling Clément Lenglet (15 selections), at playing time found at Tottenham. Fofana has also grilled the politeness of circles already capped and finds his former Monegasque partner Aurélien Tchouaméni, now at Real Madrid.
The third novice, Randal Kolo Muani, is perhaps the one with the most to gain. “He brings presence, depth, with good efficiency, a lot of qualities”, noted Deschamps about the new center forward of Eintracht Frankfurt. The ex-Nantais “didn’t believe” to be called in selection, but now that he is there, “there is a card to play”, he slipped on TF1.
. Ghosts with long teeth
Three “Spaniards” return to Clairefontaine after a long absence, starting with Ousmane Dembélé, who left Euro-2021 on injury, and has been shining for several months at Barça. The very young dad “plays at a very high level”, according to his coach Xavi, and his return to the Blues is probably a long-term one.
Long gone, Madrid’s Ferland Mendy (March 2021) and Eduardo Camavinga (October 2020) have hopes of getting on the plane to Doha for different reasons: the left-back has stolen the place of regular Lucas Digne, yet available, and the medium has the talent and the playing time to win in the tricolor rotation.
For Olivier Giroud, the September window offers only a limited opening to the World Cup. His recall is due, as in March, to Karim Benzema’s package. However, combining the two is not an option for Deschamps: Giroud (112 caps, 48 goals), holder of the 2018 World Cup, cannot become a simple understudy who is “content with crumbs”, he repeated to of Telefoot.
. Avoid downgrading
If the 23 Blues summoned all have things to prove, individually, this course also has a significant collective challenge.
France, deposed title holders, completely missed in June (two defeats, two draws) and here they are on the edge of the precipice in the League of Nations. Last of the group, she must avoid new missteps against Austria at the Stade de France and in Copenhagen against Denmark, on pain of suffering an unworthy relegation to the second division of the League of Nations.
Especially since finishing at the bottom of the group would deprive France of seeded status for qualifying for Euro-2024.