World Cup 2022: the Blues, weakened defending champions

The scenario, dramatic, repeats itself. An injury, medical examinations, then the announcement that falls like a cleaver: that of a new package to be deplored. For several months, the bad news has been linked for the French football team, while the World Cup in Qatar, where it presents itself as defending champion, has just started. The trend has not reversed a few dozen hours before the kickoff of the first match of the Blues, Tuesday, November 22 at 8 p.m. against Australia.

On Saturday evening, France striker Karim Benzema withdrew after injuring his thigh during training. Three days earlier, 25-year-old Christopher Nkunku, injured in his knee, made the same forced decision. Before them, the pillars of the 2018 victory Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté, goalkeeper Mike Maignan and defender Presnel Kimpembe had already announced that they would not take part in the competition.

Olivier Giroud, the best equipped to replace Karim Benzema

To remedy this, Didier Deschamps opted for a larger group. Without Pogba or Kanté, the midfielder of the France team is bald. The coach was diplomatic with the newcomers: “You know what the two absent ones represent in terms of experience, of leadership. Fortunately, in the various gatherings, these new players had some playing time.

For the former physical trainer of the Blues, Éric Bedouet, present during the 2014 World Cup, the summoned midfielders have a card to play. The latter recalls that “Youssouf Fofana knows Aurélien Tchouaméni by heart, having worked alongside him in Monaco, who himself now rubs shoulders with Eduardo Camavinga at Real Madrid. »

In attack, Olivier Giroud is the best equipped to replace Karim Benzema. Holder in Russia, four years ago, and author of a very good start to the season with AC Milan, he has often been compared to his injured compatriot. A rivalry maintained mainly by the media, according to Éric Bedouet.

“I remember a game in Brazil where Giroud and Benzema were playing together on the pitch. At the end, Olivier found that his match had not been at the level.he recalls. “I showed him his match stats and said ‘Look at the numbers, the number of runs you’ve made to unsettle the opposition, assists etc. That’s how Karim scored.” He was reassured. That’s a group. »

Heal the egos

By summoning a larger group, the staff of the France team will have to heal the egos between the indisputable holders and the others. “Will they all have playing time? I don’t have the answer today”conceded Didier Deschamps, recalling that his main objective, with his staff,is not to lose anyone”.

“You never know what can happen during a competition, so everyone is likely to playrecalls Éric Bedouet. If Didier takes them, it’s because he knows that these are players who will blend into the collective. A group is built like that. If you take someone who absolutely wants to enter the field but you take him as a substitute, it can create problems. »

“It’s often the substitutes that make the group work”

For the specialist, “Each player is carefully monitored throughout the year. There are correspondences between the staff of the France team and the clubs to find out the personality of one or another. he explains. If a player is selected because of his sporting skills, the fact remains that he will also be selected for his ability to accept remaining on the bench and to take on a more secondary role..

“In reality, it is often the substitutes who make the group work well. Take the example of Adil Rami in 2018”, advises Eric Bedouet. In Russia, the defender had not played a single minute in the seven games of the Blues. However, all his teammates had insisted on the leading role of number 17 during the competition. Jovial and a joker, he had contributed in his own way to making this group welded and united. Condition sine qua non to aim for a new coronation.


The Blues, always present at the highest level

France is taking part in Qatar in its 16e World Cup. It’s his 7e consecutive appearance, the longest streak in its history.

By combining Mondial and Euro, France participates in its 14e consecutive major tournament. The Habs have not been absent from a major international tournament since the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

The reigning world champions won their opening match in only three of the last twelve editions of the World Cup.

This is the 5e consecutive major tournament of Didier Deschamps as coach of France, a national record.



XV of France: Fabien Galthié, weakened coach

It was in December 2019. Fabien Galthié and Raphaël Ibañez, new coach and manager of the Blues, presented their project to renovate this XV of France that they had just taken over. It was then a question of enlisting everyone in a long-term adventure – 2023 and the World Cup in France on the horizon -.

To convince, the tandem had multiplied the interviews with the players in order to share their conviction. “We wanted to define a very rigorous framework on the way of living together, then explained Fabien Galthié. A form of pact, on which players are asked to commit. As a priority, exemplarity required, in their clubs already, and obviously in the French team. “

→ READ. Rugby: the discourse of the Galthié-Ibañez method

This speech is probably trotting in some heads today, at the time of the feuilletonsque count of positive Covid cases among the Blues and their supervision, demanding the postponement of France-Scotland scheduled for Sunday, February 28. Because for a week, the training center of Marcoussis has been hearing the same insistent rumor: a few days before Ireland-France, it is the coach Fabien Galthié who would have emerged from the health bubble set up around the XV of France.

A culpable prank?

The interested party disputes this, in his only daily commentary. The team February 24: “All my actions comply with health protocol. “ The internal investigation requested by Roxana Maracineanu, the minister delegate in charge of sports, must make it possible to verify this, as well as the other research that the Ministry of Health must carry out on the evolution of contamination within the France group.

What about “Patient zero” ? This ” fitness trainer “, very quickly mentioned but never appointed by the Federal Vice-President and “Covid manager” of the Serge Simon federation, was it only put forward to clear the coach?

Federal President Bernard Laporte promises to conduct this investigation, even if his conviction is already partly made: “I find it hard to imagine that there was a fault”, he proclaimed on February 25 at the microphone of France info. There is therefore no point in evoking a possible sanction from Fabien Galthié, of which nothing yet proves the small arrangement with the rules he imposed.

→ ANALYSIS. Fabien Galthié can savor the relaunch of the Blues

The boss of the federation knows what the French team owes to his playing master who, in just a few months, has transformed an old carne into a racehorse. Bernard Laporte also remembers the support of the coach in the recent electoral campaign for his re-election as president of the FFR.

Confidence shaken

The main sanction, in fact, could come from the France group itself. The credit of the coach is it now started with these players? This relationship of trust that he demanded, and which founded the “Moral pact” put forward from the outset by the coach, is it damaged?

In Fabien Galthié’s coaching career at the French Stadium, in Montpellier then Toulon, technical competence was not always enough to hide his difficulties in relationships or exchanges. At worst very divisive, at best elusive, his personality nevertheless seems well suited to this project in the national team, where human management is less regular and intense than in a club. And with a more rounded Raphaël Ibañez, he forms an apparently balanced tandem. Does the beautiful team thus scaffolded risk a bad fracture? One thing is certain: a good explanation could well end up being necessary.