Malouda dropped for Newcastle star: La Sélection

Laurent Blanc

“La Sélection” (Part 2) by Jason Milligan

You may remember earlier in the season, just before Christmas, we at French Football Weekly outlined our picks for France’s selection at Euro 2012.  Before embarking on the task, we agreed that our selections would be reviewed and indeed improved later in the season as opinions change on who we believe should board the plane to Poland and Ukraine this summer.

It is important to reiterate the fact that these selections, from myself, Andrew and Jonathan, are who we would select for the trip to Poland and Ukraine if we were the manager of the French national side.  This is not who Laurent Blanc will necessarily select for his final group of players.

As with my original list, I have used the talent available domestically in France as far as is possible.  There are a large number of players who are also versatile enough to play in a number of roles for the national selection and have been picked with this in mind.  So, without further ado, I present my selection for France in Euro 2012.

(Olympique Lyonnais) – France’s number one goalkeeper at present so his selection is an easy one.  He has also captained the side on a few occasions and looks set to continue as number one choice between the sticks this summer.

Steve MANDANDA (Olympique de Marseille) – Marseille are not having the best of campaigns this season at all, sitting 9th in the table at present and without a win in their last 12 games in all competitions – 11 of which resulted in a loss for the side.  Mandanda, however, is an effective choice as goalkeeper and is the biggest competition to Lloris at the moment.

Ali AHAMADA (Toulouse FC) – A surprise selection, it would seem, at just 20 years old.  Look behind the surface and you will see that Toulouse have conceded just 28 goals so far this season and Ahamada has a total of 16 clean sheets to his name.  This is more than Steve Mandanda and Hugo Lloris, who have both played more games.  Should he continue his current form, the current under 21 international will have a bright future ahead of him.

(FC Barcelona) – Having recently undergone a liver transplant, it will be interesting to see if Abidal does make Laurent Blanc’s selection in the summer.  This would be a great send off for the veteran, however.

Mathieu DEBUCHY (Lille OSC) – The right-back has just three caps for France at the moment but will surely add to this in summer.   He will put up a fight to be named starting right-back at the competition.

Patrice EVRA (Manchester United) – It is unlikely France will have a repeat of the 2010’s World Cup debacle with Laurent Blanc at the helm but Evra still appears to be France’s best option at left-back.

Adil RAMI (Valencia CF) – The way things are going at the moment for the defender, he should be one of the first names on the teamsheet.  His inclusion on this list goes without question.

Anthony REVEILLERE (Olympique Lyonnais) – The reliable right-back is someone whose big-match experience can be called upon when needed.  Hasn’t fully made his mark on the France squad but is a solid option when needed.

Mamadou SAKHO (Paris Saint-Germain) – The young defender has a solid future ahead of him for both club and country.  This summer’s tournament should be a positive experience for him.

Mapou YANGA-MBIWA (Montpellier HSC) – This has been a fantastic season for Montpellier and Yanga-Mbiwa has been a key player for them.  He has represented France at under 21 level and certainly deserves a chance to show his worth on the international stage.

(Newcastle United) – The midfielder’s inclusion in the squad may cause some controversy given that he did not leave France on good terms.  Issues of his maturity will be called into question, though there is no doubting his ability  and current form in the Premier League for Newcastle United.

Yohan CABAYE (Newcastle United) – Has settled seamlessly into the Premier League and shown how capable and classy a midfielder he can be.  Probably the easiest selection on this list.

Marvin MARTIN (Sochaux-Montbéliard) – Sochaux are not having the best of seasons and currently sit in the relegation zone.  Unfortunately, it seems that some of their bigger names, including Martin, are being singled out for criticism.  Martin should use this tournament to showcase his true talent once more following last season’s excellent performances, which could see him seal a move away from the club.

Yann M’VILA (Stade Rennais) – One of the best young midfield talents in Europe at present and can make his mark as a solid option in France’s midfield this summer.

Samir NASRI (Manchester City) – Like much of France’s midfield, Nasri is a versatile option and one which the manager can use to the fullest in this summer’s tournament.

Franck RIBÉRY (Bayern Munich) – Another of the versatile options at Blanc’s disposal.  Consistency may be a problem but there is no doubting Ribéry’s ability when he is on top form.

Mathieu VALBUENA (Olympique de Marseille) – The little Marseille man has an explosive turn of pace on him and has the versatility to perform in a number of roles for the national side.  He has his critics but I believe he is a good enough option for France.  Valbuena is also joint top of the assists table in Ligue 1 this season, showing how valuable he can be in providing goals for a squad.

(Real Madrid CF) – Benzema is still France’s main goalscoring outlet and is likely to be a key player for the national side come this summer’s competition.

Olivier GIROUD (Montpellier HSC) – I debated whether to put Giroud into the original selection before the winter break but, given his overall form this season, he has to go to Euro 2012 with France.  Ligue 1’s top goalscorer and a key player in what could be a title-winning Montpellier side.

Bafétimbi GOMIS (Olympique Lyonnais) – Probably a biased selection on my part and another one whose inclusion was debated in the original list pre-Christmas.  This season he has done well for the side, scoring a number of important goals in all competitions.

Jérémy MENEZ (Paris Saint-Germain) – Can provide pace and presence for the national side and looks set to be an important member of this summer’s squad.

Dimitri PAYET (Lille OSC) – Another option in the wide areas who can open up some tactical possibilities when included in the squad.

Loic RÉMY (Olympique de Marseille) – A versatile option up front for France, can perform in a number of roles in the forward areas, which is key to his inclusion in this list.

This selection was far more difficult than the original one.  It could be argued that this is because Euro 2012 is, essentially, just around the corner.  As is likely to happen in the coming months, some of the players have been selected based on reputation but others on form.

A number of players who were close to being included on the original list have made it onto this one (namely Giroud and Gomis) and deservedly so given their form over the course of the season as a whole.  Some players who were actually close to being included on this one include Valencia’s Jérémy Mathieu and PSG duo Kévin Gameiro and Guillaume Hoarau.  Hoarau himself has done well since making his return though was not able to make the list this time around.  There may be some controversy around the selection of Hatem Ben Arfa given his reputation in France.  His form for Newcastle United at present, however, shows that he merits the chance to show his worth to the national side once more.

These are all capable players and, obviously, some other capable players had to miss out on the list.  I feel that this is a rather conservative list in comparison with some other options which could have been chosen.  Each of these players can do a job for les bleus if given the opportunity to do so at Euro 2012 this summer.

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  • Some good picks here, no doubt about it, but I totally disagree with you on Payet. What are your arguments of including him in the squad? I haven’t seen all of Lilles games, but what I have seen has not been impressing. I have though registered that he has picked up form recently. Do you mention him here because you see him as a wildcard? He only has 19 starts this season. Atleast the player shold be a regular? Andrew: I know you see most of the Lille games, but seriously Payet good enough for the selection now?

    Two holding midfielders are not enough, so I would add L.Diarra or Mavuba/Matuidi to the mix.

    Funny you mention Ahmada btw, he actually would deserve it, but if anyone takes Carassos spot it would be Ruffier. I would love to see Yanga, but Koscielny is preferred after his great performances recently on a higher level.

    • Payet’s inclusion was indeed a wildcard. It could be said that he is in form at the moment having scored in Lille’s last three matches. I don’t think he will go, but he made my list as one of the wildcard forward entrant.
      On reflection, however, I’d sacrifice Payet’s place for another holding midfielder but I’m not convinced by Lassana Diarra – Mavuba is probably the one I’d select over him. Though there are a few rather interesting choices who could have been selected here (to spark debate!).
      I agree about the goalkeeping situation also. It’s a shame that, for the moment at least, it seems that the three who are likely to go the tournament are the same three who are called up more often than not. Ahamada will have his chance in the future, especially if his form stays on a high.
      Yanga-Mbiwa deserves a call up but it will be interesting to see who makes the final squad in the defensive positions.

  • Liver transplant is a rather serious surgery. Who is the back-up at left back if Abidal can’t play? Also, I would add at least one other holding midfielder, since France usually plays a 4-2-3-1.

    • This is who I’d select if I were manager, not who I think will actually go to the tournament, regardless of France’s usual formation. I do agree, however, that another midfielder would be useful. As I said above, it’d probably be Rio Mavuba.
      Should Abidal not make it, I’d take Jérémy Mathieu of Valencia. I hinted at the end that I was very close to selecting Mathieu anyway (over Abidal) so I’d give him his chance.

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