Euro 2016 hosts France begin their campaign on 10th of June, in a Group A encounter against Romania at the Stade de France. Les Bleus manager Didier Deschamps sprung many surprises while naming his 23-man squad for the tournament.
Nice attacker Hatem Ben Arfa, who had a productive season in France, is not included, while Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette also misses out. Ligue 1’s 4th and 2nd top scorers respectively are on stand-by. Elsewhere, Kevin Grameio was also left out of the squad despite scoring 29 goals for Sevilla this season.
Raphael Varane has injured his thigh, which has ruled him out of Real Madrid’s Champions League final, and it remains to be seen if the severity keeps him out of Euros too. Adil Rami could be called up as a replacement.
France’s Euro 2016 Squad
Manager: Didier Deschamps
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Benoit Costil, Steve Mandanda.
Defenders: Lucas Digne, Patrice Evra, Christophe Jallet, Laurent Koscielny, Eliaquim Mangala, Jeremy Mathieu, Bacary Sagna, Raphael Varane.
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye, Lassana Diarra, N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba, Moussa Sissoko.
Forwards: Kingsley Coman, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial, Dimitri Payet.
Les Bleus talisman Karim Benzema was left out by Didier Deschamps, following his criminal investigation into alleged sex tape blackmailing. The Real Madrid forward was expected to lead his side in the Euros, but his suspension comes as a minor setback as Deschamps tries to guide the 1984 and 2000 winners to silverware on home soil.
Antoine Griezmann – France’s best player from the 23-man roster. Griezmann has netted 22 league goals season, and a further 7 in the Champions League, which has propelled Atletico Madrid to a final showdown against arch-rivals Real Madrid. A fan favorite, the former Real Sociedad man will be looked upon by Deschamps as his go-to man for delivering goals. Talisman indeed.
Paul Pogba – Another fan favorite, Paul Pogba has been evaluated in the range €100million when he makes his move from Juventus. Pogba has improved in leaps and bounds since arriving as a relative obscurity from Manchester United; who were aware of his potential, but couldn’t persuade him to stay.
He has the ability to dominate games on his own, and the nation is looking up to him to provide the necessary inspiration and guile. The last time France relied on a midfielder to deliver the goods was with Zinedine Zidane, back in 1998 World Cup and at Euro 2000.
Anthony Martial – Anthony Martial’s £36 million price tag is already proving to be a bargain. In what has turned out to be a torrid season for Manchester United, despite the FA Cup triumph, Martial has been one of the very few highs for the Red Devils.
The 20-year-old has already netted 17 times in his debut season in England, and although he didn’t get on the score-sheet in the FA Cup triumph, he was one of the best players on the pitch.
Deschamps; although unlikely to face embarrassment of riches, would be licking his lips at the prospect of having Martial as an impact sub, if he decides to start with Dimitri Payet.
Deschamps, like many, will spread a 4-3-3. Captain Hugo Lloris, will marshal a defense of Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Eliaquim Mangala, and Patrice Evra in front of him.
The experienced Lassana Diarra, after a solid season with Olympique Marseille has forced his way back into the national setup, and will lead the midfield consisting of Paul Pogba, and Blaise Matuidi.
Upfront, Olivier Giroud will lead the line, flanked by Griezmann on the right. Payet and Martial will fight for the spot on the left-wing, with the on-song West Ham United man likely to be favored with his all-round playing style.
Romania (10 June), Albania (15 June), Switzerland (19 June)
How far can they go?
France are clear tournament favorites. The advantage of playing on home soil swings the balance more so to their side. With a well gelled, talented and at the same time experienced squad, lifting the Euro for a third doesn’t seem far fetched for Deschamps and co.
Image Credit: Getty, Lineupbuilder