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Croatia-France: two places to take in the eleven, and more if affinities

A little more than two years after the World Cup in Russia, the finalists and winners of the last World Cup still occupy the starting positions in the mind of the coach. At this level, we no longer speak of framework. It is downright all the skeleton of the Blues which is modeled on the typical team of 2018. They were ten world champions to start on Sunday against Portugal (only Rabiot had not made the trip to Russia) and nine holders of the final against Croatia (4-2).

With the non-selections of Matuidi and Umtiti for different reasons – the former has gone into exile in MLS an uncompetitive league, the latter is regularly injured and in difficulty at Barça – there are currently two places to take in of the workforce of the Blues. And maybe more.

In defense, Kimpembe and Lenglet neck and neck

In central defense, Clément Lenglet the other FC Barcelona player has gradually settled alongside Raphaël Varane since 2019 and the repeated absences of Umtiti. But, at the option of a little less successful club outings in particular, the former Nancy must now face the rise of Presnel Kimpembe, who has become an indisputable holder at PSG. In the mind of the staff, the two players are very close even if they marry different profiles.

The Parisian is a little more in the duel, when the Barcelonan relies on an interesting ball exit. It is clearly these two who are applying today for a starting place at Euro 2021, while Dayot Upamecano, newly called, is a step behind in the hierarchy of exchanges. But Kimpembe and Lenglet can also evolve together with Varane, if Deschamps decides to use his system with three central defenders. For the rest, it is difficult to see the coach do without the services of Pavard, Hernandez as full-backs and Varane in the axis. To date, these three are not threatened.

Rabiot a little early?

In the middle of the field, the departure of Blaise Matuidi in the North American championship left a gaping void. During the four matches played without him by the Blues, Didier Deschamps started Rabiot twice against Sweden and Portugal, Corentin Tolisso against Ukraine (he was absent from the list because he was spared in September), and Nzonzi against Croatia. Whether in 3-5-2 or in the 4-4-2 diamond, the Turinese and the Lyonnais delivered promising outings as left relay midfielders. It will therefore be interesting to see which player Deschamps chooses this Wednesday evening against Croatia.

As the coach repeated, we are in a gambling sector where competition is tough. “DD” does not fail to mention the name of Eduardo Camavinga in his panel. Who knows if in eight months, at the time of Euro 2021, the 17-year-old Rennais will not put everyone in agreement in the event of a successful season with his club. Finally, we cannot totally exclude a return of Matuidi on the European continent, if his Miami club were to be eliminated from the MLS playoffs. And if Pogba and Kanté seem untouchable, it will still be necessary to scrutinize the performance of the small midfielder of the Blues in delicacy with his coach at Chelsea.

Coman, Martial, outsiders in attack

Since last month, Deschamps has often explained that the different systems currently tested (3-5-2, 4-4-2 diamond) aim to put his attacking trio (Griezmann, Mbappé and Giroud) in the best conditions. For the moment, it is not very convincing on the three meetings where they evolved together. We will say that this is the meaning of the tests carried out by the staff of the Blues: groping until finding the right formula. However, if he were to return to his initial 4-4-2 with two lane players, the coach would then have to find Matuidi’s successor in the role of off-center midfielder on the left side. Kingsley Coman could be the chosen one even if he does not display the same defensive capacities as the new player of Inter Miami.

Unless Rabiot or Tolisso agrees to take on this unnatural role. We can also wonder about the status of Olivier Giroud who will once again be indexed to his playing time in a club. What will happen if he is hungry? Could the Chelsea player remain a steadfast? If he were to flex, Martial who showed a promising deal last month with Griezmann could win at the forefront of the attack. That’s good, these two could again be holders this Wednesday night.

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