Prior to flying to Brazil on Monday, the France National Team announced that Franck Ribery and Clement Grenier have been ruled out of the World Cup. Despite their slowly declining form, France was considered a favorite to advance out of the group. They will be replacing two players with a wealth of senior team experience with two players who have the combined experience of less than a half. Getting out of the group now becomes highly doubtful.
The tolls of a very long season were too much for Ribery to overcome. His lingering back injury has kept him out of France’s last two friendlies, but coach Didier Deschamps was optimistic that the winger could return. Ribery took part in the Club World Cup, the Bundesliga season and Champions League play for Bayern Munich on top of his national team duty. That grueling schedule took its toll.
Midfielder Grenier is less of a story but still a big loss. He tore his right groin in training on Thursday. It is an extension of a lingering injury that hampered him for the entire season at Lyon. The loss of Grenier amplifies the loss of attacking power when coupled with Ribery’s absence.
Grenier has been in the France system since taking part in the U16 in 2007. He has five appearances for the senior team but over 50 within the entire system. Ribery has 81 appearances for the national team. Once approved, Ribery will be replaced by Remy Cabella who has one substitute appearance. Grenier will be replaced by Morgan Schneiderlin who has zero appearances with the senior team and will be making his first appearance in the system since 2010.
The upstart Swiss team and the speedy Ecuador squad are both more confident now. Both teams have a good attack. Switzerland also has a good defensive corps, and right back Stephan Lichtsteiner will now be more free with Ribery’s absence. Ecuador has shown that their pace can threaten most back lines in the tournament, and the loss of Grenier means more possession for the speedy squad from Ecuador.
This was supposed to be a redemption tour for Ribery, who many said was the leader of the France training strike in 2010. Injuries always play a role in the World Cup, but France is now hit by news that may not be overcome. They will bow out earlier than expected.