the hierarchy of goalkeepers, the doubt Pavard, the captain… The big questions on Didier Deschamps’ list

Didier Deschamps will announce on Thursday the list of players selected for the two European qualifiers, scheduled against the Netherlands and Ireland at the end of March.

Didier Deschamps returns to service. On Thursday 16 March, the Blues coach will announce the list of players called up for the French team’s two matches, as part of the Euro 2024 qualifiers, against the Netherlands on 24 March at the Stade de France and in Ireland next March 27 in Dublin.

Since the World Cup final defeat against Argentina (3-3, 2-4 on pens) on 18 December, the coach has seen many of his players announce their retirement from the national team (Hugo Lloris, Raphaël Varane, Steve Mandanda, Karim Benzema). It is in this context that Deschamps, now under contract with the Blues until 2026, will have to answer several questions that portend profound changes in the French team.

Among the goalkeepers, what hierarchy behind Maignano?

In place of the goalkeeper, the identity of the new number 1 is already known. After the international retirements announced by Lloris and Mandanda after the World Cup, Mike Maignan will take over. “We know Mike is set to take over“, so nicknamed Lloris, in an interview with The group. Italian champion with Milan last season, Maignan has recently returned from injury after missing the World Cup.

Behind him, several goalkeepers are fighting to become number 2 and number 3. Brice Samba is having a great season with Lens. The latter was supervised on February 19 during the match between Lens and Nantes by Franck Raviot. The Blues’ goalkeeping coach took the opportunity to also observe Alban Lafont. Alphonse Aréola has the experience of number 3 status in the French squad to him and remains a part of this hierarchy of goalkeepers. Up-and-comers Illan Meslier (Leeds) and Lucas Chevalier (Lille) are goalkeepers regularly mentioned for the future but start further back.

Pavard or no Pavard?

Holder of the 2018 World Cup, Pavard started the 2022 edition in Qatar in the same role, before being downgraded after the first match against Australia. “He’s not in a good mood.”, explained Deschamps, who hasn’t played an extra minute in the competition. The Bayern Munich defender who has performed very well in recent weeks with the Bavarian club, including a brace in the league on Saturday, is now in these.”good intentions” ?

Pavard has never hidden his desire to play centre-back at the club as well as in the selection. But Deschamps still wants to use him as a right-back. A position to which Jules Koundé ended up convincing. The certainty is that the coach lacks a real position specialist. Jonathan Clauss is in trouble with Olympique de Marseille and has not been selected for the World Cup. In the absence of Pavard on the list, Pierre Kalulu (Milan), who can also play as a centre-back, is an option.

The same midfielder from the World Cup?

The path of the Blues in Qatar made it possible to identify the new leaders of the tricolor midfielder. These are called Aurélien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot. The two brilliantly made up for the withdrawals of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté. We shouldn’t see them again at this gathering. The former has played just 35 minutes into the season and picked up a groin injury late last week. The second hasn’t played since August and has just returned to training.

In the absence of these two managers, we could find the same starting midfielder from the World Cup again, with a brilliant Antoine Griezmann as torch bearer and very good with Atlético de Madrid since the beginning of 2023. Among the substitutes, Mattéo Guendouzi, Jordan Veretout, Youssouf Fofana and Eduardo Camavinga have the advantage of having taken part in the Doha epic. Boubacar Kamara is unavailable for this rally (ankle), unlike novices Khéphren Thuram or Manu Koné, who could create a surprise.

which captain?

This is one of the big questions surrounding this roster, but also the future of the French team. Within a few weeks, the Blues lost their captain and vice-captain – Hugo Lloris and Raphaël Varane – who retired from international football. When his shortlist is announced, Deschamps will inevitably be questioned about the identity of the sash’s future bearer.

Two favorites stand out: Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé. The former is a leader à la Lloris, not necessarily the most talkative but endowed with natural authority. The 117-capped player captained once during his blue career, against Denmark in September. When he left the field, it was Mbappé who closed the match with the armband. The Bondy prodigy has been frequent captain of Paris Saint-Germain in recent weeks and welcomes this responsibility with ease.

Antoine Griezmann wore the France captain's armband only once, during the Nations League match against Denmark in Copenhagen on September 25, 2022. (ULRIK PEDERSEN / AFP)

After the final loss against Argentina, Lloris had designated him as a potential successor: “I think this tournament could be useful for the French team with a passing of the torch, with a generation that is entering the last phase of its career and a new generation of players led by Kylian, who has shown strong leadership during this tournament and again. more during this final”. Paul Pogba is a potential captain, but too often injured to pretend to become one, as is Presnel Kimpembe, who captained twice against Croatia last June.

Add a Comment