France supervisor Didier Deschamps shouldn’t be a worrier. It isn’t a part of his character; he is extra of a realistic and optimistic man, at all times making an attempt to look on the intense facet of issues. Nonetheless, even he should be questioning what the heck is occurring proper now?
Two months earlier than the beginning of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the place his workforce will attempt to turn into the primary reigning champion to retain their title since Brazil in 1962, France are going by way of turmoil like by no means earlier than. Even when judged in opposition to French footballing historical past, which has seen loads of tasteless tales up to now, that is unprecedented. Every part that may very well be going fallacious proper now could be going fallacious, and there are such a lot of sources of turbulence taking place on the similar time.
To begin with, there’s the ambiance across the workforce. On Monday, Kylian Mbappe continued his combat in opposition to the French Soccer Federation (FFF) over the gamers’ picture rights settlement. The FFF (and its president, Noel Le Graet) first stated again in June that it might modify the settlement underneath strain from Mbappe, who had already complained about it in March, however nothing was accomplished. So Mbappe introduced on Monday that he was refusing to participate in Tuesday’s actions and photoshoots with nationwide workforce sponsors.
The panic was so intense that an emergency assembly between Le Graet, Mbappe, Raphael Varane, Hugo Lloris and Deschamps was referred to as, and an answer for the picture rights was discovered. The settlement will likely be reviewed and modified to provide the gamers extra leverage and compensation. However whereas Mbappe received his battle with the Federation, supported by the workforce’s captains, it uncovered the cracks inside the “Blue Home.”
Le Graet, whose relationship with Deschamps may be very sturdy, can be within the eye of the storm. Media reports in France have accused him of sending inappropriate text messages to feminine staff on the FFF and protecting up, or not appearing on, quite a few incidents inside French soccer over the previous a number of years.
Le Graet, who’s 80 years outdated and nonetheless has two years left in his function as FFF president, is refusing to step down, however the tension around him can be constructing not directly round Deschamps and his gamers. The pinnacle coach summed it up himself final week: “The ambiance is heavy.”
The previous few weeks have additionally seen tales about Paul Pogba surfacing within the media. The Juventus midfielder is presently underneath police safety in Italy after current revelations a couple of group of his childhood buddies trying to extort money from him. His personal brother, Mathias, is being held in jail and awaiting a decision over bail with four other men — all of them identified to Paul — after being charged for extortion.
Pogba is out injured with a torn meniscus, however the incident is having a unfavorable influence on him and the France workforce. His teammates are anxious and Deschamps is hoping that his No. 6 will be capable of come back from his knee injury in time to be match for the World Cup, but additionally that he’ll be capable of overcome the trauma of the threats and intimidation he has skilled. Nobody is aware of what sort of Pogba will return to Deschamps and France.
There are additionally a number of minor accidents piling up inside the core of the squad anticipated to compete in Qatar. Deschamps may subject an entire workforce with the gamers presently absent, and what a workforce it might be: Lloris in aim; Ibrahima Konate, Lucas Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe and Theo Hernandez in defence; a midfield of Pogba, Boubacar Kamara, N’Golo Kante and Adrien Rabiot; with Karim Benzema and Kingsley Coman up entrance. And there can be subs as effectively.
A minimum of six of those gamers — Lloris, the Hernandez brothers, Kante, Pogba and Benzema — are in Deschamps’s strongest XI. They don’t seem to be all out with long-term points, however their absences are an enormous blow contemplating that France’s upcoming UEFA Nations League video games — in opposition to Austria on Thursday and in Denmark on Sunday — are the final two earlier than they start their World Cup marketing campaign in opposition to Australia on Nov. 22.
It has been a nightmare for the France head coach, who hasn’t seen his gamers for the reason that final worldwide break in June, when his father passed away unexpectedly and Les Bleus have been horrible in his absence. (They misplaced to Denmark and Croatia at dwelling, and drew in opposition to Austria and Croatia.) France are backside of their Nations League A Group 1 with two factors from 4 video games and may’t face the humiliation of being relegated.
The remaining squad remains to be elite, after all, with the likes of Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Aurelien Tchouameni, Jules Kounde and Varane in coaching. France additionally boast spectacular depth, with gamers in prime kind like William Saliba, Mike Maignan and Olivier Giroud, in addition to promising younger expertise like Randal Kolo Muani, Youssouf Fofana and Benoit Badiashile, who have been referred to as up for the primary time.
Nonetheless, even among the many gamers gathered at Clairefontaine, there are issues, whether or not it is when it comes to health — like Antoine Griezmann being stuck playing under 30 minutes per game at Atletico Madrid — or confidence (Christopher Nkunku is struggling to seek out kind with RB Leipzig.) Issues are robust for Deschamps and for France proper now, however just like the supervisor instructed his gamers on Monday: the one manner is up.