GARDIENS : Stéphane Ruffier (Monaco), Nicolas Douchez (Rennes).
DÉFENSEURS : Rod Fanni (Rennes), Adil Rami (Lille), Philippe Mexès (AS Rome/ITA), Mamadou Sakho (Paris-SG), Benoît Trémoulinas (Bordeaux), Aly Cissokho (Lyon), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille).
MILIEUX : Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid/ESP), Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse), Yann M'Vila (Rennes), Samir Nasri (Arsenal/ANG), Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Charles N'Zogbia (Wigan/ANG), Blaise Matuidi (Saint-Etienne).
ATTAQUANTS : Hatem Ben Arfa (Marseille), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Loïc Rémy (Nice), Jimmy Briand (Lyon), Jérémy Ménez (AS Rome/ITA), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris-SG).
Not too different that the list the BeanTownFrog put out a few posts ago! Some things to note:
- 16 Players from Ligue 1.
- 7 players that have never been selected for France A: Mathieu Debuchy, Mamadou Sakho, Benoît Trémoulinas, Yohan Cabaye, Blaise Matuidi, Charles N'Zogbia et Jérémy Ménez.
- No surprise but the noted return of Nasri and Benzema
- A number of players from the France Espoir team - Sakho, M'Vila and Sissoko.
- Neither Ciani nor Chalme, who were in the pre-selected list, both from Bordeaux, did not make the final cut.
- The depth France have at holding midfield - Matuidi, M'Vila, Sissoko, LDiarra...add to this the World Cup players - ADiarra, Toulalan, Diaby - as well as those not selected - Cheyrou, Mavuba, Flamini, Pedretti - and it is amazing to me how France can generate so many players that can play this role, while a nation like England cannot seem to produce one...other than Hargreaves who is Canadian and always injured.
- Some surprise exclusions, other than the 2 Bordeaux players mentioned - Koscielny the Arsenal man has received a lot of praise and accolades, I am sure his time will come. I was a little surprised no Gameiro, the leading scorer from Ligue 1 could have offered some interesting offensive options.
During the Blanc's interviews he pointed out a couple of notes of interest:
- Sakho being a natural left footed player and playing for one of the big Ligue 1 sides has a real chance to cement himself at central defense, possibly with Mexes.
- Benzema remains a very important player for France and has the chance to be one of the pillars.
- Another note is that Blanc did not consider any of the U19 players, saying he wanted to watch them but that they needed some more time with their clubs before he would consider them for the senior side, interesting.
- Finally, Blanc pointed out that even though this is a friendly, France is heading to Norway for a win and the players need to take advantage of this selection to show him something.
There is a good blend of veterans and newbies. I think this will give Blanc a great opportunity to gauge how hungry and ready some of these new players are for the big squad. Early thoughts on the starting 11, based on prior discussions I see a 4-1-3-2 formation for Blanc's first game.
Ruffier: The #1 shirt is firmly on Lloris' back, but there remains room for his understudy, the Monaco keeper is a rising star in goal, someone to watch.
Cissokho - Mexes - Rami - Fanni : I think Blanc will work Sakho in practice with Mexes/Rami but will start with a more experience central defense tandem. Tremoulinas has a chance to earn some points, even though France have depth at left back - Abidal, Evra, Clichy...Cissokho also has a legitimate chance to earn some points at that spot. I see the Lyon player getting the first 45 minutes and Tremoulinas the second half. Fanni will get a chance to slot back on the right. Sagna should be the starter however he still needs to improve his crosses, I think Blanc will expect his fullbacks to add more offensively than prior regimes. Something Fanni can score some points with Blanc.
LDiarra : I see Blanc leaning on one true holding midfielder. If he decides to go with 2 I would see Sissokho as the natural partner to shoulder that responsibility with Diarra.
N'Zobia, Nasri, Menez: N'Zogbia will hold down the left flank, while Nasri and Menez can interchange in the center of the midfield and out on the right. Alternatively, Blanc might look to Ben Arfa to fill in the role of Menez.
Hourau - Benzema: While I could see Briand or Remy in the place of Hourau, what the PSG man brings is a target man who can hold the ball as well as give some threat in the air. I think Benzema is better suited to play with a strike partner of this profile allowing the Real Madrid man to make runs from deep and to have more space as Hourau forces the defense deeper.
Many of these players will play a major role for Les Bleus as they embark on qualifiers for Euro 2012. There are some interesting players at the U19 and Espoir level that could also make some hay - Ait Fana and Kakuta - to name 2 players. It should be a very interesting week...
Allez les Bleus!!!