WORLD CUP 2022 – Before France – Australia – Defense, the great mystery of the Blues

They have gone from five to four, the centrals have become full-backs and the hinge is, three days before the start of the match against Australia, a huge question mark. This is roughly what the state of play of the defense of the Blues at the time of defending his title of world champion. Today, no one really knows what it will look like. First in his casting where, between injuries, packages, job changes and uncertain competition, only Benjamin Pavard is almost certain to start the World Cup.

Four players can still hope to start in the center (Raphaël Varane or William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano or Ibrahima Konaté) while the Hernandez siblings are fighting over the left wing. For certainties and references, France starts in defense with a balance sheet close to nothing especially if Varane is not ready. “Automation is hereyet swore Lucas Hernandez Friday at a press conference. I know my teammates perfectly, the moves they want.”

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Hernandez, Pavard: the big step back

It is indeed with Pavard and Hernandez on the sides that the Blues were world champions. But the first became an axis player, by the coach’s own admission in March, when the second shone as a hinge last year before returning to the side this season. The return of the two Munich residents to their first love in the selection perfectly embodies the spectacular U-turn of Didier Deschamps before flying to Qatar. Like an acknowledgment of helplessness. In a year, and a few attempts (Kingsley Coman, Jonathan Clauss, Nordi Mukiuele), he hasn’t been able to find a solution on the right, so he’s back to the less bad option.

Benjamin Pavard intervenes against Austria

Credit: Imago

Last June, Pavard had nevertheless told us of his relief at no longer being considered a side defender in the selection: “Playing in the axis with the France team, I had been waiting for that for a while. Afterwards, I am at the service of the collective. (…) I’m not a side job, my position is the axis. When the coach changed the system, I took that as a good opportunity. If I am asked to play straight piston, I will but these are not my primary qualities. ” This return to square one will not put him in the best conditions but, at least, Pavard has benchmarks.

Saliba, Upamecano, Konaté: players without reference

The hinge will be unprecedented unless it associates William Saliba, first resort to Varane, and Ibrahima Konaté, hinge tenured in Austria in June (1-1). The international inexperience of Saliba (7 selections), Konaté (2 selections) and Upamecano (7 selections) mechanically deprives them of the experience required by such an exposed position. The three men, indisputable in their club, still do not have a reference match in the France team. The weight of the blue jersey is particularly heavy for a very feverish Upamecano in selection and Saliba has never had the same radiance in blue and at Arsenal.

Under these conditions, the state of health of Varane covers capital issues. Even if, since 2018, his history in Blue has had more lows than highs, he remains the safe bet in a sector weakened by the absence of Presnel Kimpembe or the repositioning of Jules Koundé as Pavard’s understudy. His 87 selections are a beacon and the France team has rarely needed it as much as at the moment.

Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano battle for a place in the Blues’ defense

Credit: Getty Images

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