After the debacle of the last European Championship, Didier Deschamps, France coach, has started a quiet renovation. Among the 23 summoned for the 2022 World Cup qualifying matches, there are not nine of the players who made up the team that was eliminated by penalties against Switzerland in the European tournament and who have been fixed in the calls of the world champion team in the last years. Among others, Didier Deschamps has left out the Barcelona center-back couple, Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet, midfielder Adrien Rabiot and, for the first time in a decade – not counting when he has been injured – AC Milan striker Olivier Giroud, second highest scorer of the national team.
As always, Deschamps prioritizes harmony, the Achilles heel of several generations of French teams. However, with the transfer market scheduled to close just hours before France’s first game (against Bosnia-Herzegovina, this Wednesday at 8:45 p.m.), the coach feared some disruption in the first days of concentration in Clairefontaine, where Kylian arrived on Tuesday. Mbappé, the man who has been talked about the most in the last week and who will not finally go to Real Madrid.
With Mbappé theoretically more focused than the coach expected after his frustrated departure from PSG, Deschamps tries to rebuild the team and cultivate a good atmosphere. France leads their group in the qualifying rounds for the World Cup in Qatar and these days they will face Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Finland, so the coach took the opportunity to call back Theo Hernández (AC Milan) for the first time; midfielders Aurelien Tchouameni (Monaco) and Jordan Veretout (Rome), both in good shape with their teams; and the winger Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen).
The most controversial absence is that of Olivier Giroud who, despite having had his detractors both in France and in the Premier League, where he stood out with Arsenal and Chelsea, has always performed with the national team and is just five goals away from the record of goals from Thierry Henry (51). The coach has preferred to include Manchester United footballer Anthony Martial, who did not appear in the squad for the Eurocup, but ensures that the door for Giroud is not permanently closed either, especially if he accumulates minutes in Italy after his transfer this summer to the Milan.
Less contentious is the omission of Adrien Rabiot, one of the scapegoats after the elimination in the European Championship. In the summer he was a wild card player, as he played as a left back out of necessity after a series of injuries in the squad, but the Juventus midfielder was not up to the task in that unknown position. The absences of Umtiti and Lenglet are not surprising either. In an area of the field in which the options are numerous -Joules Koundé, Dayot Upamecano and Kurt Zouma are the other centrals of them blues this time – the Barcelona couple is expendable. Especially when the former has been publicly sidelined by Koeman and has his playing minutes numbered and the latter has been underperforming for months.
In any case, the backbone of the team, made up of star players such as Varane, Kimpembe, Kanté, Pogba, Mbappé and Benzema, remains despite the disappointment of the summer. When you have some of the best players in the world, any renewal is cautious.
You can follow EL PAÍS DEPORTES in Facebook and Twitter, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.