Sunday, 22 June 2014

Written by Timothy Hock-An Balaguru, Class of 2014, Junior 2 Cempaka

The 2010 World Cup saw Raymond Domenech’s men eliminated without a single win in simply chaotic circumstances. During the half-time break in France’s defeat to Mexico, striker Nicolas Anelka was embroiled in a heated confrontation with Domenech, which resulted in the former being sent home and effectively banned for life (18 matches, to be exact). This decision was not accepted well by the rest of the squad, who then refused to train as a show of support for their colleague. France eventually finished at the bottom of their group, with just a single point accumulated from their three matches. In the aftermath of this debacle, the president of the French Football Federation resigned, Domenech’s contract was not renewed, and five players were disciplined for their roles in the disintegration of the team at the tournament. 

Four years down the line, the French have seemingly moved on from the horror that was the 2010 tournament, but manager Didier Deschamps still remains wary of how a disunited squad can ruin the hopes of the nation. As a result of this, he did not select the talented Samir Nasri, for reasons that many suspect are related to his personality, as opposed to his ability. Deschamps himself has stated that the squad was not picked solely based on the footballing ability of the players, but rather a variety of factors, including the effects of individuals on the mindset of the squad as a whole. 

I for one, agree with the manager on this. A talented player has the ability to contribute to a World Cup success. However, that is only if that player can fit into the team environment. If he cannot do so, the performance and morale of the whole team may go down and therefore, the player should not be picked. This was probably the main reason why Nasri was not considered for selection. Despite his absence, the French roster still has enough skill and variety to progress to at least the quarter finals. Their talented but inexperienced centreback pairing of Mamadou Sakho and Raphael Varane have been tipped to shine at this tournament, and they are ably supported by the firepower of Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema. They also can call upon Loic Remy for an injection of pace on the right flank. Remy is on the verge of a move to a top club, and he will definitely be out to prove that he can compete with the best players in the world. 

Another player to watch out for is the talismanic youngster Paul Pogba, who is considered by many to be one of the best young footballers in the world. One notable absence from the squad though, is fiery winger Franck Ribery. Ribery is definitely a world-class player and on his day, can tear defenses to shreds. Thankfully for the defensive units of the teams in the tournament, Ribery has been plagued by a back injury for a few weeks and was consequently deemed unfit to make the trip to Brazil. 

I do not think the French have the ability to go all the way and win the World Cup, but they certainly have a point to prove following their flop at the 2010 World Cup. For me, a lot depends on the collective performance of the team. Individual brilliance will help, but at the end of the day, the whole team has to show up if France are to do well.

Key Players: None in particular, team unity is the most important thing for Deschamps’ men.

Previews of the teams from Brazil, Spain, Germany, England, Argentina, France, Belgium and the Netherlands will be published on the Lumen Studet. Next: The Netherlands.


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