23? No, 30…

"I hate you all"

Well, the big announcement has finally come, and it wasn’t exactly what we all expected. We were expecting the 23 to be set in stone tonight but Domenech toyed around with FIFA regulations that allow him not to have the definite 23 before June 1st. The coach said that he knows who the 23 are, though, but didn’t want to have to name the 7 extra players just for the sake of it so decided to leave us with a little extra suspense.

Domenech argued that FIFA forced him to hand a list of 30 players, so he complied. Nonetheless, we’ll quickly now who is out of contention for a World Cup spot. In order to avoid the extreme awkwardness of having 7 players leave Tignes (France’s first training camp) by helicopter like they did in 2008, the coach said he would only take 24 or 25 players in the Alps. The couple extra players will probably only be there in case it turns out that William Gallas can’t make it, since his right knee is still bothering him, and worrying a whole country (remember Henry in 2002). Domenech added that it is more likely that 24 players will go to Tignes, and that whoever is coming as an extra will clearly be informed of it.

So without further due, here is the list (In bold are the players I think will NOT make it to South Africa). :

Goalkeepers

  • Cédric Carrasso (FCG Bordeaux)
  • Mickaël Landreau (LOSC)
  • Hugo Lloris (Ol. Lyonnais)
  • Steve Mandanda (Ol. Marseille)

Defenders

  • Eric Abidal (FC Barcelona)
  • Gaël Clichy (Arsenal FC)
  • Patrice Evra (Manchester United)
  • Rod Fanni (Stade Rennais)
  • William Gallas (Arsenal FC)
  • Marc Planus (FCG Bordeaux)
  • Adil Rami (LOSC) => 24th
  • Anthony Reveillère (Ol. Lyonnais)
  • Bacary Sagna (Arsenal FC)
  • Sébastien Squillaci (Sevilla FC)

Midfielders

  • Vassiriki Diaby (Arsenal FC)
  • Alou Diarra (FCG Bordeaux)
  • Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid FC)
  • Yoann Gourcuff (FCG Bordeaux)
  • Yann M’Vila (Stade Rennais)
  • Florent Malouda (Chelsea FC)
  • Jérémy Toulalan (Ol. Lyonnais)

Forwards

  • Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea FC)
  • Hatem Ben Arfa (Ol. Marseille)
  • Jimmy Briand (Stade Rennais)
  • Djibril Cissé (Panathinaikos)
  • André-Pierre Gignac (Toulouse FC)
  • Sidney Govou (Ol. Lyonnais)
  • Thierry Henry (FC Barcelona)
  • Franck Ribéry (FC Bayern Munich)
  • Mathieu Valbuena (Ol. Marseille)

"Set me free"

So what is there to take out from this mess?

– The surprise call-ups were almost expected. There was a populist push for Matthieu Valbuena given OM’s title, and Domenech caved in. I personally don’t see him bringing much more than what Ribéry or Malouda, both natural wingers, can. I’d much rather seen Hatem Ben Arfa – if he manages to behave – get some playing time : he is the future of the French National team, not Valbuena.

As for Yann M’Vila, his name had also been on the shortlist during the season. Word is that Domenech wanted to call him up versus Spain but the U-21 coach asked him to leave at the disposal of his team. I’d be surprised if he went to the World Cup but the call-up is great news for him in a very near future, if Domenech’s successor considers him as well.

Marc Planus and Anthony Réveillère are the two other “fillers”. Both have had very solid seasons, probably their best, with their clubs. I always wondered why Mickaël Ciani got the call-up when his fellow Girondin Planus clearly was playing better and was more consistent. Réveillère also had a great season with Lyon, played all the Champions League matches, and has the experience with him, compared to the likes of Laurent Bonnart who has also had a great season. I doubt they’ll make it but it must feel good for them. In his reaction, Réveillère was very realistic as to the fact that he doesn’t stand much of a chance to make the final 23.

– You read correctly : no Karim Benzema. Real Madrid wonderkid paid for a mediocre season. He had a hard time adapting to a more demanding environment like that of Madrid’s, his performances on the field were never stellar which means he didn’t get much playing time, and he was bothered by some physical problems. He took the risk of leaving Lyon in a pre-WC year and Domenech was pitiless. He’s also shown some attitude when with the FNT during the qualification stage, and is also paying for that. But he’s only 22 and has more than enough time to factor in the next competitions ; nonetheless, hard not to think that it’s a shame to do without one of the best strikers the country has.

Patrick Vieira : Domenech gave him some hope, but the 3-match ban and irregular appearances with Manchester City killed his chances. Had he been on, it would have been for pure leadership purposes. Interestingly, it came out that in the previous months, Domenech heavily courted Claude Makélélé and tried to convince him to get out of his international retirement for the competition. So no love for Vieira but plenty for a player who declared himself unavailable Sunday night again… Show how lowly Vieira was considered. Did he even ever stand a chance? I’m not even sure, but at the same time I’m not even sure I care ; especially when Vieira’s reaction to being called up is ” I wish he would have told me before I found out on my own”. This reaction reeks of the sense of entitlement that has been plaguing French soccer since 1998. Good career, good riddance.

– Who else is missing? Jean-Alain Boumsong , despite a very good end of season with Lyon and FNT experience, is a somewhat surprising omission from the squad. Domenech seems to be favoring the younger players, a choice that can hardly be discussed. Same goes for Julien Escudé, who factored a lot during the qualifying round. His absence is a bit surprising especially since he can play on the left side as well. This shows Domenech trusts Eric Abidal a lot, and that he thinks he has solid back-ups at both positions if anything were to happen. Also missing is Moussa Sissoko from Toulouse who pays the price for a terrible season by his club, in which he was barely able to linger on, especially with his partner in crime André-Pierre Gignac going down on injury for most of the season. Aly Cissokho, Loïc Rémy are also missing but they’re young and will be back ; for the time being competition at their position is high.

"I hate being here"

Djibril Cissé made his case all season in the Greek Superliga and seems to have won his bet. He scored 25 goals with Panathinaïkos and deserves the chance he never really got. He was too young in 2002, was suspended in 2004, got horribly injured in a friendly before 2006 and was part of the 7 that left in 2008. His never-die attitude is interesting and it looks like his Greek exile has made him a better person. His speed is always interesting in situations where France will play the counter, and he is an effective force in the middle, something Henry and Anelka don’t do as much. He looks like he’ll be the natural replacement of André-Pierre Gignac. Talking of him, will he be able to put his crappy season with Toulouse past him and play with confidence in South Africa? Domenech likes him a lot, and France can’t afford to have a player who’s out of shape, especially with a guy like Cissé, who is absolutely famished for playing time and recognition, pushing behind.

– Does Thierry Henry still know how to play soccer? And will Domenech continue to play him out of position on the left side, with  Franck Ribéry complaining about his position and day-dreaming of Zahia on the right side?

The FNT starts its training camp in Tignes (French Alps) on Tuesday the 18th. Squilacci will be missing as he needs to play the Copa del Rey final with FC Sevilla. On the 26th, France will face Costa Rica in Lens before going on a short camp in Tunisia where they will face the local national team on the 30th and the Tunisian Olympic team on the 31st. Then they will fly to the Reunion island, East of Madagascar, a French overseas department where they will face China on the 4th of June, before finally flying to South Africa the same night, exactly a week before the first match versus Uruguay.

"Why are you making me do this"

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4 Responses

  1. Interesting. I am surprised that Doms picks Squillaci and not Escude. I figured that two would work perfect due to the fact that they play together all the time.

    Also surprised that Gignac was picked but not Sissoko. I thought it would be the other way around.

  2. Martin, thanks for the captions, very funny.

  3. Yeah they are, but that is one sweet studio. I think the French are #1 when it comes to studios. Top notch!

  4. […] I was obviously wrong in my predictions of whom I thought would make the cut. I can officially stop calling Domenech a creature of habit, […]

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