It is not just the addition of Karim Benzema that turns the profile of world champion France for the Euro Cup. The Didier Deschamps-led team has won Russia in 2018 with some punctual adjustments.
On the defense line, the main change of scenario was the loss of relevance for Samuel Umtiti, who scored the winning goal over Belgium in the semi-finals of the World Cup. The defender is coming out of injury season and has not been called. So, three years later, France is expected to make their Euro Cup debut with Presnel Kimpembe.
Kimpembe started the team’s last friendly with a 3–0 win over Wales. The PSG player formed a double defense with Rafael Varane, who remains in the starting lineup three years after the Cup.
English champions Benjamin Mendy were out with Manchester City, losing in the contest to Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich) and Lucas Digne (Everton).
In midfield, Andrian Rabiot appears with chances to capture the spot that Blaise Matuidi had in Russia. The 2018 starter plays in US football and was dropped from the Euro Cup list.
Rabiot, a Juventus midfielder, was not in the cup, but he earned credit for a good season in Italy with Deschamps. Bayern’s Corretin Tolisso is also an option for the region.
Both Rabiot and Tolisso were regulars against Wales, but the arrival of N’Golo Kante after the Champions League final should remove one of them. Chelsea players appeared after the friendly and have a certain place in the team.
World Cup holders, Giroud will bank in Euro Cup
Finally, in the attack, Olivier Giroud loses his place among the holders to the entourage of Benzema, with whom he has been exchanging barbs through the press in recent years. Now, the two must cross the rivalry under the rug in order to coexist in the selection.
The current European champions with Chelsea, Giroud is coming out of a Cup with no goals in seven matches. The hope, not only in France, is that Benzema’s return will enable a dream lineup, which includes Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. For the rest, for options to change team dynamics, Deschamps will likely rely more on the pace at Ousmane Dembélé’s end than what Giroud can offer as a field man.
Karim Benzema was out of the French national team for a few years and lost his chance to be champion in the previous cup. All because of his involvement in an extortion scandal in which teammate Matthew Valbuena was the victim. Last week, the Real Madrid star did well in a win over Wales despite missing a penalty.
France made their Euro Cup debut on 15 June, already in a heavy struggle against Germany for Group F in Munich. For this match, Deschamps is expected to field the following formations: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Fernandez; Pogba, Thorn, Rabiot; Griezmann, Benzema and Mbappe.