Is France a powerful team when Pogba and Kante are absent?
Although France is evaluated as a powerful team, witnessing the weak performance of "Les Bleus" in the Nations League, many experts feel like they are not ready for the journey to defend the throne in Qatar.
In the Nations League group stage, Didier Deschamps' team ranked 3rd in Group A with 5 points after 6 matches. In four matches that took place in June, the France team received two defeats and two draws. It is the worst result for the national team since Deschamps took charge.
In the remaining 2 matches in September, France is expected to perform well to regain some inspiration and confidence. However, the confidence they had when they had a 2-0 victory over Austria did not last for a long time, and then they lost to Denmark 0-2.
It can be said that in the Nations League, "Les Bleus" plays sporadically and lacks harmony, and this may continue at the upcoming World Cup.
Why is the France no longer as strong as it was in the World Cup of 2018?
Looking at the form of the France team in the Nations League and the squad they will bring to the World Cup in 2022, we can see that their lineup is not unified.
In the 0-2 defeat to Denmark on September 26, the stars including Karim Benzema, Hugo Lloris, N'Golo Kante, and Paul Pogba were all absent because of injury. It is one of the main reasons leading to the disappointing performance of Deschamps' teachers and students.
While Benzema and Lloris recover and are ready for the World Cup, midfield pairings Pogba and Kante will certainly miss the tournament in Qatar. Not only that, but the number of French players suffering injury increases since Raphael Varane and Mike Maignan (substitute goalkeepers for Lloris) left open the possibility of participating after injuries in October.
Four years ago, France won the World Cup because they had players who played together for a long time. They are experienced, play well together, and are names that Deschamps believed in. The absence of key players forced the 54-year-old team to use new players. However, we can see that this strategist has not yet found a way to assemble them into a complete framework.
In the matches against Denmark on September 26, when Varane was rested, the French defense of William Saliba and Dayot Upamecano played uncertainly. They could not coordinate and prevent Christian Eriksen, Andreas Skov Olsen, and Kasper Dolberg from assisting and escaping. Both players can play well at the club level, but when playing at the level of the national team, they still need many things and have not shown that they are capable of replacing Varane.
In the same match, midfielders Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni did not perform as well as Pogba and Kante. The duo of Real Madrid could not control the midfield before the dominance of Denmark and constantly passed errors. Camavinga and Tchouameni are expected to start in the World Cup, but they can be replaced because they have not made Deschamps feel secure.
The forward line that seems perfect is also a problem for Deschamps. Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann will certainly feature in the official squad, but choosing Oliver Giroud or Karim Benzema is still a question. During the six Nations League matches, Giroud was the one to bring France's only victory over Austria, not Benzema. Although he did not score as many goals as Benzema, Giroud knows how to create space for Griezmann and Mbappe, helping the French attack to play coherently. However, is Deschamps brave enough to eliminate the Ballon d'Or winner for the benefit of the team?
The World Cup will start in less than two weeks, but it is clear that "Les Bleus" are not ready yet. Injuries to the stars in the context of the substitutes not playing well and the difficult choice between Giroud and Benzema make Deschamps still have not identified 11 starting names for France in Qatar.
The possibility of defending the title for France
In the past, there were two teams that could defend the World Cup. They are Brazil and Italy. However, everything happened 60 and 84 years ago when the strength of football teams had clear differences. Meanwhile, since entering the 21st century, no defending champion has made it past the group stage.
Although football always brings surprises to fans, defending the French throne is very difficult. The history and the current situation do not support France's team. France is weaker than themselves four years ago and is not appreciated by many other teams. While the squad of France from four years ago is a team with 11 main kick names that never change, The only position where there is a disturbance is Blaise Matuidi, who occasionally makes room for Corentin Tolisso. Currently, in complete contrast, France has not been able to shape its squad and style of play. Looking back at France, it is difficult to know who Deschamps will launch and how he will play at the next World Cup.
While the France team struggles with arranging its squad, other teams, such as Argentina, Brazil, and England, have good performances. All of them have clear strategies and plans for personnel selection. England advocates playing firmly with many powerful players, Brazil is strong on the border with many quality wingers, and Argentina builds a style of play around Lionel Messi.
It can be said that the World Cup of 2022 will be an interesting tournament. It is the league where national teams show their power. Besides the brightest candidates for the World Cup title, there are many teams that may become the "black horses" of the tournament. Unless Deschamps quickly comes up with a solution to the team's problems, the journey of the France team at the 2022 World Cup may end soon.