La liste des 23 :
Gardiens: Grégory Coupet (Lyon), Sébastien Frey (Fiorentina/ITA), Steve Mandanda (Olympique de Marseille)
Défenseurs: Eric Abidal (FC Barcelone/ESP), Jean-Alain Boumsong (Lyon), François Clerc (Lyon), Patrice Evra (Manchester United/ANG), William Gallas (Arsenal/ANG), Willy Sagnol (Bayern Munich/ALL), Lilian Thuram (FC Barcelone/ESP), Sébastien Squillaci (Lyon)
Milieux: Lassana Diarra (Portsmouth/ANG), Claude Makelele (Chelsea/ANG), Jérémy Toulalan (Lyon), Patrick Vieira (Inter Milan/ITA)
Attaquants: Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea/ANG), Karim Benzema (Lyon), Bafétimbi Gomis (Saint-Etienne), Thierry Henry (FC Barcelone/ESP), Florent Malouda (Chelsea/ANG), Sidney Govou (Lyon), Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich/ALL), Samir Nasri (Marseille)Some thoughts and observations:
- Gomis - This pundit thought that he would be the first player "cut" from the 30, but that was before his two wonder goals during yesterday's friendly. If you missed them they are already on YouTube...no surprise http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFEXgqbZ6CQ. The last spot for striker was clearly down to Cisse and Gomis, and the thinking was Cisse with his experience as well as his strong end of season with Marseilles would give him the nod over the rookie Gomis. However, I think the theme of Domenech's pick was evident with Gomis, he went with the players that were in form and in health. Gomis was the revalation of Ligue 1 this season with 16 goals and his two strikes yesterday gave the French manager a front row to the ability of the Stephanoise striker. While I am not ready to say that Gomis will truly challenge for a starting role, I think he will offer Domenech an incredibly talented and dangerous offensive substitute.
- Boumsong and Squillaci - Ugh, what can I say about Boumsong....other than he is slow, takes bad angles, and is really not worthy of being a full international. Hopefully he will only see the field in the 3rd game of the group stages, assuming France has wrapped up its place in the knock out stages and will rest Thuram and Gallas. The only thing I can see for Boumsong to be included on the roster is the fact Mexes was injured after the Italian cup finals and Escude was coming off an injury as well. According to what Domenech stated he wanted to go with players he knew would be healthy, not those that have question marks. Mexes had not even kicked a ball since the Italian Cup, not a good sign with the tournament starting in 2 weeks. Escude was also coming off injury. While on pure talent these two should be head and shoulders above "the donkey" Boumsong, if they cannot play rather have a healthy player....well maybe not. Squillaci is not a huge surprise, due to the above mentioned injuries. I hope that if he and Boumsong need to play, their time spent together at Lyon will help them anchor the middle of the defense. I must admit I am nervous about these two as back up for Thuram and Gallas.
- Landreau - Always thought of as the #2 behind Coupet and most likely the future #1 the fact he was completely dropped is a little bit of a surprise...but not really. Mandanda was voted the #1 keeper in Ligue 1, ahead of Landreau. Landreau had a shaky season for both club and country (the goal against Scotland, while a wonder strike from McFadden should still have been handled by a keeper of that stature) and was not instilling the greatest confidence for any manager. The back up keeper roles are similar to the Vice President, completely irrelevant but still a "heart beat" away from being vital. I think that with Frey as the back up, France has no fear and getting Mandanda into the squad, allow him to train with the team and watch the games from the side line is more a selection for the future than for the actual tournament. The keeper spots were always thought as status quo - Coupet, Landreau and Frey - this sends a message to both Landreau and the rest of the squad. Landreau most likely would not have seen the pitch, but this might give him a kick in the pants remind him that nothing is a guarantee and he needs to earn each cap, each start. I do not doubt that Landreau will be back in blue and will be in competition for the #1 stripe for the World Cup 2010, but for now he will have to watch from his television, hopefully with an added hunger to improve and fight for his spot.
- ADiarra and Flamini - No real surprise here, both players are victims of being in a midfield position that has a log jam of world class players - LDiarra, Toulalan, Makelele and Vieira. No shame in being second fiddles to these players. The time for both will eventual come, Makelele cannot go on forever, although he shows no signs of slowing down. The season both players had for their clubs entitles them to be in the mix for the long term for France's holding/defensive midfield role. Amazing how France can have so much talent at this position, yet a nation like England cannot seem to find 1 decent holding midfielder (Hargreaves is Canadian....)
- Ben Arfa - The young Franco-Moroccan prodigy will have to wait his turn. I think he is deserved of a spot on the roster and the person I would have dropped was Gouvou, but Sidney is Domenech's binky (kind of like Boumsong) so no surprise he was a "protected" player for the roster. I would rather have seen Ben Arfa, being a natural left footed player to be able to slot on the left side of the formation, he would also would have been a strong joker to insert late into games. While Malouda had a good end of season, he remains a little off form compared to his scintillating form for Lyon. Again, this selection was more based on who the manager is comfortable with - Gouvou, rather than who has the most talent - Ben Arfa. I think that moving away from Lyon to either Villareal or Arsenal will do Ben Arfa wonders, allow him to develop and make him an "untouchable" for Les Bleus.
Coupet in goal
Sagnol, Gallas, Thuram, Abidal in the back
Makelele and Vieira sitting in front of the defense
Malouda on the left, Ribery on the right
Anelka and Henry up front
An interesting angle will be, does Domenech maybe look to play 3 holding/defensive midfielders by inserting Diarra or Toulalan to play along side Makelele and Vieira, freeing up Vieira to roam more. Play with one striker and allow Ribery to wander offensively, allowing him to play the right flank or as a true #10. The youth for France is on offense, maybe by playing a third holding midfielder he takes pressure off "veterans" like Thuram and Sagnol. Or perhaps he plays with three offensive midfielders, putting Nasri behind a lone striker. The options are there, the question remains will Domenech find the correct one?