The qualification course and the group:
The team to beat. On top of the world in 2018, the Blues then roamed Europe with a goal behind them. In Group D alongside Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kazakhstan, the largely favorites French ended these qualifiers unbeaten (W5, D3). But they were still hooked by the Bosnians (1-1) and twice by the Ukrainians (1-1 and 1-1). Not enough to bother the title holders who validated their ticket to Qatar on November 13, 2021 after the landslide 8-0 win against Kazakhstan at Parc des Princes (9th playoff matchday). A perfect evening where Kylian Mbappé, author of a quadruple, had shown himself just like Karim Benzema, who had closed the match with a brace. He then finished the last day in style, beating Finland 2-0. With 18 goals scored and 3 conceded, France showed they could count on them in 2022. This, even if the level shown recently in the Club of Nations was not completely reassuring observers. Not to mention the injuries (Pogba and Kanté, Maignan packages), the many uncertainties (Varane, Kimpembe) and the various cases and controversies surrounding the Blues (the Pogba and Le Graët cases, the controversy on image rights with Mbappé) . France will also have to trust a new midfielder as the two usual holders are on the wing. Despite everything, the tricolor team will have a say in maintaining its crown, which will cross swords with Australia (November 22), Denmark (November 26) and Tunisia (November 30). A group D within the reach of the Blues. But the opponents should not be underestimated, some of whom will arrive in Qatar full of confidence. We think in particular of the Danes, who recently beat France in the League of Nations (2-1 on 3 June, 2-0 on 25 September). It is up to the Blues to play and activate World Mode to remain the kings of the world!
The strengths and weaknesses
In four years the French team has evolved a lot. Karim Benzema is back and newcomers have pointed the tip of the nose like Aurélien Tchouameni, William Saliba, Ibrahima Konaté, Youssouf Fofana, Eduardo Camavinga, Mattéo Guendouzi, Jordan Vertout or Jules Koundé just to name a few. Enough to offer more options to Didier Deschamps, who has often bet on 3-4-3 to be able to put his attacking trio in the best conditions and make the most of his qualities. But with injuries and uncertainties, DD will finally opt for a system with a 4-man defense (a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 are the options studied). The French coach, on the other hand, has more certainties ahead of him. With Griezmann, Benzema and Mbappé, France has indeed a fire attack. In any case, on paper it makes many people dream. Not to mention all those waiting on the bench (Giroud, Ousmane Dembélé, Nkunku, Coman). A force that the Blues will have to rely on. In addition to the offensive qualities, the Habs have solid experience, players capable of making a difference as well as an incredible bench and offensive potential that allow DD to have several options in hand. Sometimes he also used the 4-3-3 with Nkunku and Mbappé to support KB9, for example. To this, we must add that the young people scored points and even took power in the image of Aurélien Tchouameni.
Confident of its strength, France will also arrive with doubts. He also remains on a 3-loss, 2-draw and 1-win streak during his latest outings in the League of Nations. That’s not the best way to prepare to defend your title. But several owners were missing. That was not good news even for the last test before the meeting in Qatar. In addition to injuries (Pogba, Kanté, Maignan) and the uncertainties related to the physique of some such as Kimpembe, Varane or Lucas Hernandez, the Blues were not flashy in the game and lacked creativity and efficiency. With 7 goals conceded in the last few games, France have also not been very solid behind. Captain Hugo Lloris was also criticized, with some favoring Mike Maignan. Even the central as well as the bands, we think in particular of Benjamin Pavard, were not exempt from any reproach. Although they enjoy some freedom offensively, they sometimes fished on the defensive. But it is above all in midfield that doubts are most important. None of the midfielders present in Russia 4 years ago are present, especially the owners Pogba and Kanté. Replacing them is not impossible but difficult. Especially since the players called up lack experience at a very high level and don’t have many selections on the clock. But DD is counting on them in Qatar, whose team is therefore a mix of young and old ready to do anything to lift the World Cup.
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Ten years. Didier Deschamps has been at the helm of the French team for ten years. Nominated on 9 July 2012 in place of Laurent Blanc, the Basque was aiming to qualify his group for the 2014 World Cup. A tournament that France left in the quarter-finals. Two years later, DD led the Blues to the final of Euro 2016. A competition that will be won by Portugal. A disappointment but also a lesson for Deschamps and his men, who triumphed in Russia two years later. Crowned world champion in 1998, he achieved the feat of winning this title as national team manager twenty years later. He is part of a very small circle which also includes Mario Zagallo (Brazil) and Franz Beckenbauer (Germany). On the strength of this world title, Deschamps, who until then had always made his teams progress, had his first hiccup with the Blues during Euro 2020 (played in 2021 due to covid-19). His team was eliminated in the 1/8 finals by Switzerland (after tab). A hard blow for DD, who has never really been threatened by its president Noël Le Graët with whom he has a strong bond. Under contract until 2022, those hoping to stay until 2024 know they are expected and want to continue writing history with France, who with the Blues as coach has 131 games (84 wins, 27 draws, 20 defeats). That’s more than when he was a player (103 appearances).
Player to watch: Karim Benzema
The return of the king. For Karim Benzema (34) his story in France is divided into two phases. Great hope for OL, the Madrid forward chained his capes before being sidelined following the famous sextape blackmail case against Mathieu Valbuena in October 2015. Left aside by Didier Deschamps and then provisionally suspended from the FFF until upon resolution of the case, KB9 was finally laid off indefinitely in April 2016. A month later, he gave an interview to brand in which he stated: “Deschamps has succumbed to pressure from a racist part of France”. The point of no return had been reached and we thought Benzema would probably never return with the Blues. But the striker continued to proclaim his love for France. In Madrid he worked and took advantage of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to enter another dimension. That of the great players. True scoring machine, he has earned everyone’s respect in Spain (329 goals in 617 games). His performances, his experience at the highest level and his many qualities convinced Didier Deschamps, who had traded with him, to call him back to the national team. On May 18, 2021 DD, who needed fresh blood also in attack, therefore selected him to participate in Euro 2020, played in 2021. With 4 goals, he was the top scorer of the Tricolores during the tournament. But he couldn’t avoid the elimination of the Blues. Author of 37 goals in 97 appearances, Benzema, who has just won his first Ballon d’Or after an exceptional season marked by a double Liga-Champions League at Real Madrid (45 goals, 14 assists in 47 appearances), intends to raise his World Cup morale on December 18, one day before celebrating his 35th birthday. A nice gift.
Attraction: Aurélien Tchouameni
What a year 2022 for Aurélien Tchouameni! This summer, the 22-year-old midfielder was transferred to Real Madrid for just over € 100 million, including bonuses. A childhood dream for the footballer who has made AS Monaco happy in recent seasons. There, he overcame the appearances to join the France team. On September 1, 2021, he honored his first cloak with the rooster-hit jersey. Since then, he has continued to be called up to every rally in Clairefontaine, he who gradually scored points and won his seat for Qatar. A medium that has taken power and from which much is expected in the absence of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté. This is what is expected of him also in Madrid, where he took advantage of Casemiro’s farewell to settle down comfortably in the starting line-up. If he is still young and perfectible, Tchouameni has conquered Madrid and Spain. A real draw, the player with 14 selections hopes to conquer the world now.
The list of 25:
Guardians: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Stade Rennais), Alphonse Areola (West Ham)
Defenders: Raphaël Varane (Manchester United), Presnel Kimpembe (PSG), Théo Hernandez (AC Milan), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Jules Koundé (FC Barcelona), William Saliba (Arsenal), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool)
Environments: Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurélien Tchouaméni (Real Madrid), Mattéo Guendouzi (OM), Jordan Veretout (OM), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid)
Forwards: Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético de Madrid), Kylian Mbappé (PSG), Ousmane Dembélé (FC Barcelona), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich)