The French Football Revolution

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Raphaël Varane and Paul Pogba. (Photo: AFP)

Raphaël Varane and Paul Pogba. (Photo: AFP)

 

Besides Brazil, France produces the best footballers.

It took a 3-0 victory over Ukraine to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, but France is easily one of the best national teams on the planet with young prodigies in the defense, in the midfield, and in the attack. These three freaks of nature are of course Raphaël Varane in the defense, Paul Pogba in the midfield, and the currently outside of the fold M’Baye Niang in the attack.

World Football is seeing an influx of extremely tall and graceful athletes with incredible technical ability and speed. The three French prodigies plus Mario Balotelli are soccer players with essentially the physique and athleticism of NBA players, and they are starting to raise the bar for all footballers in terms of skill, size, and speed.

While these three French players have been highlighted because of their youth and their phenomenal combination of masterful technical ability and off the charts athleticism, Les Bleus also feature Franck Ribéry (currently up for the Ballon d’Or), Blaise Matuidi, Samir Nasri, Mathieu Valbuena, and Karim Benzema.

To this list, one should add Yann M’Vila, Jérémy Ménez, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Yohan Cabaye, Gaël Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Patrice Evra, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Adil Rami, Christophe Jallet, and a whole host of other players.

France has truly elite players at almost every position, and Varane and Pogba in particular are 20 year olds who are essentially the best players in the world at their positions. Thiago Silva is the world’s best center back, but Varane is somewhat at his level.

The 18-year-old AC Milan striker, M’Baye Niang, is serving a ridiculous ban from the French Football Federation until the end of the calendar year, but Niang is a striker who has the technical ability, size, and untouchable athleticism of Mario Balotelli.

Anyone who has watched Niang play can see that the two-footed magic, the trickery, the speed, the passing ability, the work rate, and the aggressive attacking play are a nightmare for any defender to handle. Niang is a complete first striker with no weaknesses.

In the midst of having Ribéry as one of the favorites for the Ballon d’Or, France’s very young prodigies in addition to slightly older players like Matuidi, Benzema, Valbuena, and Ménez make Les Bleus a national side that no one will want to face in the 2014 World Cup.

With a defense anchored by a center back like Varane who is perfect technically and defensively and essentially unbeatable in a foot race and a midfield built around a totally complete midfielder in Pogba, the addition of Niang would make France a team with total masters in the defense, in the midfield, and in the attack.

Although Italy won the 2006 World Cup, France was the best team in that World Cup, and the France squad for the 2014 World Cup has yet to prove that it’s anywhere close to the same level as the 2006 team, which was almost entirely comprised of legends and masters.

The foundation of this France side is very, very strong, and it will be interesting to see which players prove to be the best options for France at the positions not occupied by Varane, Pogba, Matuidi, Ríbery, and Benzema.

Will France make its teenage prodigy, M’Baye Niang, the focal point of the attack? Only time will tell. Unleashing the AC Milan striker on defenders in the 2014 World Cup would be a wise decision for a national team with Varane and Pogba bossing the defense and the midfield.

France had a roller coaster of a World Cup qualifying campaign, but several of the best footballers on the planet such as Varane and Pogba are young French players who are already superstars.

The Brazilian prodigy, Neymar, will be the best player and the main attraction of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but don’t sleep on France when next summer comes around because French football is back.

Given France’s problems during World Cup qualification, World Soccer Source would be interested to see France slightly modify their line-up by fielding the following Starting XI:

Hugo LLORIS; Bacary SAGNA, Raphaël VARANE, Mapou YANGA-MBIWA, Gaël CLICHY; Yohan CABAYE; Paul POGBA, Blaise MATUIDI; Mathieu VALBUENA; M’Baye NIANG, Franck RIBÉRY.

 

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