Keepers: Lloris, Mandanda, Ruffier
Defense: Evra, Sagna, Digne, Varane, Mangala, Mathieu, Koscielny, Jallet
Midfield: Matuidi, Schneiderlin, Cabaye, Pogba, Sissoko, Valbuena
Forwards: Payet, Benzema, Griezmann, Rémy, Gignac, Cabella
The returns of Gignac and Payet are a return to the past for DD. Not a huge surprise to see the OM #9 since he has been on a tear with his club team this season - 8 goals in Ligue 1. Payet has always been somewhat of an enigma. Loads of talent, a player who rose through the youth ranks at Nantes' top class development program, yet a player who has failed to really shine at the top levels. It almost feels like a safe pick for DD. But not a player I see as a full blown international. It also feels that
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My concern is the continuous inclusion of Evra in the side. The Juventus left back looked a shell of his former dominate self during the World Cup. Not surprising considering the miles that are in his legs. Unlike the other international coaches, DD does not have to worry about winning these games. France is automatically qualified for the Euros as the host. So Deschamps is in the unique position to truly test some players that will be key to the France side in 2 years. He doesn't have to lean on veterans that might not be around for the Euros but that he needs now to win games. Yet he insists on calling up Evra when he as viable options such as Digne from PSG (who is in the side) and Kurzawa from AS Monaco (who should be in the side). The next two years should really be about figuring who between these two left backs and even Tremoulinas is going to become the anchor at left back for Les Bleus. Continuing to give time, in training and during the games, for a player like Evra, feels like a wasted opportunity.
The remainder of the squad is straight forward. I would look for DD to rotate through these players during the two games. It will be interesting to see how he manages the formation for - Cabaye, Sissoko, Matuidi and Pogba - as his middle 3 if he continues to go with the 4-3-3. On the wings it appears that Valbuena on the right and Griezmann on the left will be the first choice, but where do Remy, Cabella and Payet fit in this? As for the middle of the top 3, look for Benzema and Gignac to split the games in that role. Kos and Varane appear to be the #1 central defensive pairing. The wide defenders will be interesting with the injury to Debuchy, who will emerge as the right back (and apparent #2 behind the Arsenal man) and on the left...well does Evra get a start???
I would also expect to see the keepers rotate. I would not be averse to even seeing Lloris sit both games and give Mandanda and Ruffier each a game.
It is positive that there isn't too much turn over on the squad and that most of the roles are fairly well defined. But there remain some questions about who some of the support players DD will groom to become important assets in 2 years. Granted, DD also made it known that he was giving priority to the Espoir team as they look to qualify for the Euros. A reason why the likes of Zouma, Thauvin and even the aforementioned Kurzawa were not included on the senior list. However at some point I would like to see some of the youth players get integrated into the senior squad.
Should be an interesting 2 years...might be a slow boil.
Allez les Bleus.