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Posted by Rabeeta Farooque on 05/13/2010

Now that I've had a day or so to digest Raymond Domenech's provisional squad of 30 players, I can now post my thoughts in a coherent manner.

Before his roster when public, Domenech announced that he wouldn't bother naming a provisional squad and would instead post his final 23 choices for the World Cup. However, FIFA regulations forced him to do otherwise, so he grudgingly added another seven names to his roster. However, he's made it clear that he’s already decided which seven players will not make the cut and will inform them before May 18th.

Unlike two years ago, when the entire provisional squad participated in a training camp and a set of friendlies before Euro 2008, this time Domenech will take along only his 23 players plus one or two alternates (in care there are injuries). This is to spare the feelings of those who will not be going to South Africa, and at least this way they can avoid a heart breaking departure.

The remaining players will be taking part in a training camp at Tignes on May 18th. They will play a friendly against Costa Rica on May 26th, followed by another training camp, which will then be capped off by the second and final friendly against Tunisia on May 30th. At that point, the alternate will be packing his bags to go home while everyone else heads south.

So let’s talk shop. As with anything involving Domenech, his roster was not without controversy. While many of his choices were expected, some of his decisions came out of left field.

Here is the full list (the ones in bold are the players I suspect will be dropped):

Goalkeepers: Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux), Mickael Landreau (Lille), Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Eric Abidal (Barcelona), Gael Clichy (Arsenal), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Rod Fanni (Rennes), William Gallas (Arsenal), Marc Planus (Bordeaux), Adil Rami (Lille), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Sebastien Squillaci (Sevilla)

Midfielders: Abou Diaby (Arsenal), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid), Yoann Gourcuff (Bordeaux), Yann M'Vila (Rennes) , Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Jeremy Toulalan (Lyon)

Forwards: Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea), Hatem Ben Arfa (Marseille), Jimmy Briand (Rennes), Djibril Cisse (Panathinaikos), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Toulouse), Sidney Govou (Lyon), Thierry Henry (Barcelona), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).

Of the four goalkeepers, one of them will not make the final cut. My guess is Mickael Landreau, who also didn’t make the shortlist for Euro 2008. Landreau used to be France’s #2 behind Gregory Coupet, but a poor season at PSG and the rise of young hotshots like Hugo Llori and Steve Mandanda ended Landreau’s NT career before it ever really began. Cedric Carrasso is also fairly young and has had a tremendous season with Bordeaux, so it’s hard to argue against him being the third choice.

Among the defenders, William Gallas has been included despite the fact that he's still injured. Domenech is hoping that Gallas shakes off his injury before the training camp ends, but if he doesn’t, he will be dropped in favor of an alternate, who will most likely be Adil Rami. I do expect to see Anthony Reveillere and Marc Planus dropped. Both have had excellent seasons with their clubs, but Planus has no international experience while there are younger players in Reveillere’s position.

In midfield, there are no real surprises except for the inclusion of Yann M’Vila . He’s quite young but an obvious talent, and though it’s unlikely he’ll be heading to South Africa this summer, Domenech may have included M’Vila simply to whet his appetite.

Up front is where it gets interesting. Djibril Cisse has seemingly returned to Domenech’s attention after a terrific season with Panathinaikos. While it may only be the Greek league, it’s hard to ignore Cisse’s consistent scoring, which is something of a rarity for French strikers these days. Hatem Ben Arfa also gets the nod, despite lukewarm performances in recent weeks. Though he blows hot and cold, he’s had an altogether solid season and can turn in absolutely dazzling performances – when he puts his mind to it, that is. Of the attackers, Jimmy Briand and Mathieu Valbuena are the most likely candidates to be dropped. Briand simply isn’t as good as the others while Valbuena cannot offer more than what Franck Ribery, Florent Malouda, and even Sidney Govou already bring to the table.

What's even more interesting is the players who aren't on the list. The biggest exclusion is that of Karim Benzema, who is one of France’s best strikers and is the often hailed as the future of Les Bleus. But his year at Real Madrid has been poor, and his attitude during NT training camps has been downright sulky at times. Same goes for Samir Nasri, who has only recently been shining at Arsenal. On the bright side, both players are young and have at least another two World Cups to look forward to.

Patrick Vieira on the other hand can now consider himself officially retired from international football. No one outside of England expected him to make the squad, so his exclusion is not a surprise per se, but Vieira’s unhappiness stems from the fact that Domenech didn’t tell him personally. Instead, Vieira found out on the news along with the rest of the world.

Julien Escude and Jean-Alain Boumsong may feel slightly shortchanged, as they had solid seasons with their clubs and are frequent international call ups. I had expected at least one of the two to make the WC roster as both are central defenders, but it looks like Domenech will rely on Eric Abidal to pair with Gallas (or Rami), with Sebastien Squillaci as backup. Aly Cissokho may also feel put out, especially because based on his talent and form, no one would have been surprised if he had made the provisional squad. But the players ahead of him in his position have more experience, and like Benzema, Cissokho is young and will undoubtedly feature in a future World Cup.

All things considered, it’s a fairly good list. While I would have preferred to see Benzema on the roster, I can’t really argue with any of the other choices, assuming the names I bolded end up getting dropped. France’s greatest blessing has always been the amount of talented players they have – besides Brazil and perhaps Argentina, I can’t think of another nation that has so many deserving players that don’t even get the occasional call up. But on occasion, France's wealth of talent can also be a curse, because when things go wrong (and with Domenech at the helm, it's likely), it's all too easy to say in hindsight that another player would have been more useful to the team.

What do you guys think? Who do you think Domenech will drop, and who else do you think he should have included?


Posted by Leicester Fan 46 on 05/15/2010

How can domenech justify taking m'vila and briand over benzema and nasri???
benz is not playing much at real but is still scoring and is the best french striker around!
nasri was brilliant at marseille and now is doing well at aresenal!
Is Domenech retarded?

Posted by Rabeeta on 05/16/2010

M'Vila and Briand will most likely be dropped before the final list gets published on Monday. They were just put on the list because FIFA wanted a list of 30, not the original 23 that Domenech wanted to submit.

As for Nasri and Benzema's absence - they are definitely among the most talented young players that France have, but their attitudes during NT training camps in the past created serious divisions among the other players, and neither of them have played consistently well all season for Domenech to forgive their bad attitudes and bring them along.

I agree with you in the sense that the France squad would be stronger with their presence, but who of the 23 selected would be dropped to accomodate them? Perhaps Nasri could have come along in place of Diaby or one of the Diarras, but up front things are more dicey for Benzema, as the other strikers are in better form at the moment.

Posted by Gilles on 05/18/2010

A quick word to Patrick "cry baby" Vieira. 107 caps and 12 years with Les Bleus or not, you haven't been considered one of Les Bleus for MONTHS now (that should have been a clue to you mate on why you were not called) so why on Earth would you think you have a God given right to turn up for the WC? It's about current form, not History. Let's be honest, your legs are gone, you were not good enough for Inter and hardly set the PL on fire with Man City (apart from one Man of the Match award). If Domenech has to call every player who is NOT selected then tell Domenech I'm still waiting for his call too.
Also crying to the medias is a mark of "respect" to Domenech, the same "respect" you're asking for?
Come on, get a grip, you're past it, c'est la vie. Move on.

Posted by kikus on 06/17/2010

интеретсный блог почему только так мало читателей на нём

Posted by Steve on 06/21/2010

So much for Nasri and Benzema not being in the squad helping improve team chemistry.

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