France have arguably the deepest squad in the footballing world, so much so that the likes of Dimitri Payet, Aymeric Laporte, Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette were omitted from the 23-man squad picked by Didier Deschamps for the World Cup. While international tournaments may be dependent more on the strength in the playing elevens, Deschamps could use his bench as a wildcard if and when the chips are down for Les Bleus.
As mentioned, their biggest strength is in depth. Given an illustratious attacking trio of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele at his disposal, Deschamps has the option of bringing in the likes of Nabil Fekir, Thomas Lemar or Olivier Giroud as viable Plan B candidates.
Defensively too, France seem well suited with La Liga duo of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti partnering each other at heart of the back four. The two have been in scintillating form for their domestic sides this season and will look to carry the momentum into the finals.
Hugo Lloris has been France’s mainstay for a number of years but his performances of late have gone down considerably. The Spurs keeper has made a series of unnecessary errors in the Premier League this past season that has cost his team dearly on a number of occasions. He will have to up his game if France are to challenge for the World Cup.
Both of Les Bleus’ full-backs Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy are attack minded and are often found neglecting their defensive duties. While it is acceptable for one of the two full-backs to maraud forward, allowing both the liberty to do the same could see them short on numbers at the backs. Deschamps may well have to curb the attacking instincts of one of the former Monaco full-back duo.
France have alternated from a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3 depending on the opponent and that could exactly be the case come the World Cup. Deschamps would go for a three man midfield in games where he would like to win key battles in the middle of the park against opponents tougher or equal to them.
A number 10 could play against the so called lesser teams. His duty will be to exploit the half spaces and break open teams that are sitting deep and maintaining a structured shape. However, at all times, two midfielders will be expected to sit deep to make up for the numbers and spaces left vacant by the attack-minded full-backs.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Alphonse Areola.
Defenders: Djibril Sidibe, Benjamin Pavard, Adil Rami, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Presnel Kimpembe, Benjamin Mendy, Lucas Hernandez
Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi, Corentin Tolisso, N’Golo Kante, Steven Nzonzi
Forwards: Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Florian Thauvin, Thomas Lemar, Nabil Fekir