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France have no choice but to build a new-look team for the 2022 World Cup

France know how to win a World Cup. Indeed, Les Blues have been crowned world champions twice in the last 24 years with Didier Deschamps’ team lifting the trophy at the 2018 World Cup. France will once again be among the favourites in Qatar, but Deschamps will have to build a new team at the tournament.

 

Injuries to N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba means France will have to find a new midfield engine at the 2022 World Cup. Kante and Pogba were used to great effect as a double pivot four years ago with the two players bringing the best out of each other. They would have started together again in Qatar had they stayed fit.

 

Deschamps also has a serious injury concern in defence with Raphael Varane a doubt for the 2022 World Cup. The 29-year-old has been included in France’s 25-man squad for the tournament, but there’s no guarantee that he will be fit enough to start for his country once things get under way.

 

Of course, France are better equipped than any other country in international football to handle a series of injuries to some key players, but Deschamps is a coach who likes consistency. He has a core of players that he has built around for the last few years and Kante, Pogba and Varane were three players within that core.

 

Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni could step into the void left by Kante and Pogba. The midfield pair, who both play for Real Madrid, have the qualities France will need at the World Cup and know each other well and so Deschamps could use that chemistry to get a head-start on developing a new formula in the centre of the pitch.

 

Beyond those two, there is a drop-off in the quality of the options available to Deschamps. Mateo Guendouzi and Adrien Rabiot are in good form for their clubs this season, but both players have a track record of disappearing in the biggest matches. It’s not just that France have lost Kante and Pogba as players, they have lost them as big personalities too. That might be even tougher to replace.

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William Saliba could be the perfect deputy for Varane in central defence with the 21-year-old enjoying an exceptional season for Arsenal. The Gunners currently sit top of the Premier League table and Saliba is a big reason why they have emerged as title contenders. He shares many of the same qualities with Varane.

 

Saliba is physically imposing, but has the technical ability to play out from the back. His recovery speed also means Deschamps could still use a high defensive line at the 2022 World Cup even if Varane is unable to feature. It has been floated that France could use a back three at the tournament, but Saliba would be comfortable in a flat back four.

 

In attack, France are awash with world class players, but Deschamps has some difficult decisions to make in that area of the pitch too. Antoine Griezmann has been one of his favourites over the years, but the Atletico Madrid attacker is currently struggling for form. Christopher Nkunku and Ousmane Dembele might well be better options in Qatar.

 

There’s even debate over the partnership between Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe. Benzema wasn’t called up to the France squad for the 2018 World Cup, but was included for Euro 2020 when France failed to make it past the round of 16. Benzema and Mbappe didn’t always look comfortable playing next to each other at that tournament.

 

France’s individual quality means they could coast to World Cup glory in Qatar without even playing their best football, but their recent injuries mean they will need Deschamps to show himself as the tactician many doubt he is. France might be among the favourites, as they always are, but this team could be very different to the one that triumphed four years ago.

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