Manchester United's Anthony Martial
. Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette
. Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman
. Sevilla's Wissam Ben Yedder
. And Marseille's Dimitri Payet
injured in Wednesday's Europa League final.
And we won't even throw in Real Madrid's Karim Benzema
, who's been on the outs with the French federation
since "L'Affaire Sextape" broke in
How do you say "excess" in French?
These six players are among the forwards France won't be taking to the World Cup, underscoring the massive challenge Coach
and his staff had in getting down to 23 players for the World Cup.
On paper, no team has more talent than France: N'Golo Kante
in midfield and Antoine Griezmann
, Kylian Mbappe
and Ousmane Dembele
And it's young talent. Pogba, 25, would be considered an old man on
the team. Half the squad Deschamps picked is 24 years old or younger. Invisible at final hurdles.
But talent alone doesn't win
the seven-game slog that is the World Cup. Four years ago, France coasted to the quarterfinals, then shut down, falling to eventual champion Germany, 1-0. Les Bleus got their revenge in the semifinals
of Euro 2016, beating the Germans, 2-0, in Marseille, then looked the shadow of that team, losing to Portugal, 1-0, in overtime in the final. Loads of question marks.
France is not yet a complete team. There are questions about the middle of the backline, exposed by Colombia in its 3-2 comeback win in March. The two
projected starters at outside back, Benjamin Mendy
and Djibril Sidibe
, are coming off injuries.
Pogba remains an enigma, a game-changer some days, ineffective in other
games. For all the attacking talent, the often-aligned Olivier Giroud
is the lone target man, leaving how Deschamps will line up the Bleus -- 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2? -- a big question mark. Tuneups.
France will play three games at home: Ireland, Italy and finally the USA June 9 in Lyon. First round.
The Bleus are the top seeds in Group C, where they will play Australia, Peru and Denmark.
France Roster (23 players): GOALKEEPERS:
Alphonse Areola (Paris SG), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).
: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris SG), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City/ENG), Benjamin Pavard (VfB Stuttgart/GER), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe
(Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona/ESP), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid/ESP). MIDFIELDERS:
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea/ENG), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus/ITA), Steven N'Zonzi (Sevilla/ESP), Paul Pogba
(Manchester United/ENG), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich/GER). FORWARDS:
Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona/ESP), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea/ENG), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico
Madrid/ESP), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe (Paris SG), Florian Thauvin (Marseille).