France has new King for the day

A day after he helped Bayern Munich beat Juventus in their thrilling Champions League match, everyone was talking about French teenager Kingsley Coman, who was instrumental in the comeback win with a goal and an assist.

Coman joins a long list of young French attacking stars, led by 20-year-old Anthony Martial at Manchester United and 18-year-old Ousmane Dembele  at Rennes.

On Thursday, Coman and Martial were called up for France friendlies against the Netherlands on March 25 and Russia four days later.

“I believe in his potential,” France coach Deschamps said of Coman. “When he plays, he’s very successful. He can play on both flanks, and I believe in him.”

Coman has two goals and five assists in five Champions League games since joining Bayern Munich on loan from Juventus. He has emerged as a valuable option for Bayern out wide where Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben have played for many years.

“He put in a good performance and scored when we gave away too much space,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said after Wednesday's game. “He has developed a lot. Germany suits him because he gets more space there to showcase his qualities.”

Coman and Martial join a group of forwards for the games against the Netherlands and Russia that also includes Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) and Dimitri Payet (West Ham). Missing, of course, is suspended Karim Benzema.

This isn't the first time France has had a young group of forwards burst on the scene. Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet  were both 20 when they played for France at the 1998 World Cup. They played key roles in France's march to the title, both converting penalty kicks in the quarterfinal win over Italy, but neither played in the 2-1 semifinal win over Croatia and 3-0 victory over Brazil in the final.

Two years later, both played key roles as France won the European Championship, Henry leading Les Bleus with three goals in the tournament and Trezeguet winning the final with a golden goal against Italy.

Can Coman and Martial carry France to the Euro 2016 title at home in July? That would probably be too much to ask. Of much greater importance to Deschamps is sorting out his backline. He should know well the importance of the French defense of  Fabien Barthez in goal and Lilian Thuram, Laurent Blanc, Marcel Desailly and Bixente Lizarazu in the back that carried France to titles in 1998 and 2000.
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