Soccer World Cup

2014 World Cup: Predicting France’s Starting XI

World Cup 2014: Predicting the Starting XI For France

France manager Didier Deschamps speaks with Franck Ribery
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France coach Didier Deschamps announced his 23-man World Cup squad this week. We now know that Samir Nasri will not be in attendance in Brazil -- not in a playing capacity anyway -- and even though we know for sure that the Manchester City star will not be in Deschamps starting XI, it does raise the question of just who will be? Deschamps usually favors a 4-3-3 formation and this is how his team could look in their opening game.

Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris

Goalkeeper for France Hugo Lloris
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Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris

Goalkeeper for France Hugo Lloris
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Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is the undoubted number 1 and captain for Deschamps' France. While there are good backups in Steve Mandanda and Mickael Landreau, neither are a genuine threat to the outstanding Lloris at this point.

Right-back: Mathieu Debuchy

Right-back Mathieu Debuchy of Newcastle and France
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Right-back: Mathieu Debuchy

Right-back Mathieu Debuchy of Newcastle and France
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Right-back is a position which is not totally solid just yet. Bacary Sagna and Mathieu Debuchy are the two choices for Deschamps to choose between, and although Sagna has all the experience, it looks as though the younger Debuchy is slightly ahead at this stage. But, with friendlies still to come in the lead up to the tournament, things can change and it will be up to the players to grab the chance if or when they get it.

Center-Back: Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane plays center-back for France and Real Madrid
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Center-Back: Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane plays center-back for France and Real Madrid
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Talented Real Madrid youngster Raphael Varane should, in theory, be a certainty to start at center-back. The doubts that have surrounded his fitness all year during an injury hit season at Madrid, though, are now developing into subsequent doubts regarding his ability to take his place in the France team also. France has four good center-backs, however, if Deschamps does need a replacement starter.

Center-Back: Laurent Koscielny

Center-back Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal and France
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Center-Back: Laurent Koscielny

Center-back Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal and France
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Laurent Koscielny has enjoyed an impressive season for Arsenal in the Premier League and he should take up his place in the center of defense. Mamadou Sakho has also been utilized by Deschamps, but in comparison, Sakho has struggled at times this season to get into the Liverpool team and he has looked unconvincing at times when he has played. Eliaquim Mangala is another option, but an indifferent season at Porto should see him start as backup.

Left-back: Patrice Evra

Left-back Patrice Evra of France
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Left-back: Patrice Evra

Left-back Patrice Evra of France
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Patrice Evra will be the left-back when France takes to the field in Brazil. In what will no doubt be the final World Cup appearance for Evra, the Manchester United defender will hope to go out on a high after an up-and-down international career. Paris Saint Germain youngster Lucas Digne will provide backup, and his selection obviously declares Deschamps' intention for him to take over from Evra after this campaign.

Central Midfield: Blaise Matuidi

Midfielder Blaise Matuidi of France
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Central Midfield: Blaise Matuidi

Midfielder Blaise Matuidi of France
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Blaise Matuidi has grown inexplicably in the last few years for his club side Paris Saint Germain. Matuidi has become a staple in the PSG midfield and he has now done the same in the French national team too. Matuidi is an all-round player, who contributes in so many ways to helping his team win a game, and he will be a key component for the French midfield.

Central Midfield: Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba central midfielder for France
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Central Midfield: Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba central midfielder for France
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The stock of Paul Pogba has enjoyed a rapid rise in the last couple of years. In a sporting sense, leaving Manchester United to join Juventus was a wise move as Pogba has excelled since his move to Italy. With his reputation increasing by the game, Pogba is a certainty to be a starter in the French midfield, and he could turn out to be one of the brightest young stars to emerge from the World Cup 2014.

Central/Attacking Midfield: Yohan Cabaye

Midfielder Yohan Cabaye of PSG and France
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Central/Attacking Midfield: Yohan Cabaye

Midfielder Yohan Cabaye of PSG and France
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The athleticism, work rate and aggressiveness of Pogba and Matuidi will be offset nicely by the presence of Yohan Cabaye in the France midfield. Cabaye is an elegant player with fantastic vision, a vast passing range and a dangerous long range shot. Capable of assists from all areas and with an eye for goal, Cabaye will be an important player for France -- especially so, in the absence of Samir Nasri.

Left Wing: Franck Ribery

Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich and France
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Left Wing: Franck Ribery

Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich and France
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Franck Ribery is the best player on the France team and he will take up his usual position on the left wing. The pace and direct running of Ribery will be a potent weapon for Deschamps as he looks to get as much service as he can to his lone striker. For France to advance deep into the knockout stages, Ribery will have to perform at his best to give France the cutting edge they slightly lack when he is not at 100%.

Right Wing: Mathieu Valbuena

Mathieu Valbuena of Marseille and France
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Right Wing: Mathieu Valbuena

Mathieu Valbuena of Marseille and France
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Mathieu Valbuena looks as though he will be a polarizing choice for Deschamps on the right wing. Of course, Nasri could have occupied that position instead but Deschamps clearly thinks this is the way to go instead. Real Sociedad star, Antoine Griezmann, plays on the left wing but he could also play on the right instead of Valbuena. In all likelihood, though, Valbuena will take his place in the starting XI when the first game arrives on June 15.

Striker: Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema Striker for France
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Striker: Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema Striker for France
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Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema will be the lone striker in Deschamps' 4-3-3. Benzema has had a fine season for Real Madrid and he will head to the World Cup looking to continue his form and make an impact on the biggest stage of all. More than just a goalscorer, France will be looking for Benzema to contribute in multiple ways to what they hope will be a successful France team.