Will Benzema cap amazing year by lifting World Cup with France? Pogba will be a big miss – predicted line-up and stats

FRANCE’s lineup for the 2022 World Cup with one of the best and largest squads, full of incredible talent – including this time the recent Ballon D’Or winner and mad inventor lookalike, Karim Benzema. 

After lifting the prestigious World Cup in Russia back in 2018, France wants to repeat their recent success.

The holders will also aiming to erase what happened in at Euro 2020 — being knocked out early by the Swiss on penalties

Didier Deschamps has a massive pool of talent at his disposal.

He can narrow that down to a great squad, with depth in all positions – but we cannot hide from the fact their tactical performance has worsened since the last Euro.

Predicted starting XI

Although France has one of the most changeable starting XIs, with even their formations constantly changing, Deschamps has found the balance inside his large group.

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How France could line up at the World Cup

Setting up in a 3-4-1-2 with Hugo Lloris in what is going to be his last World Cup, behind Lucas Hernández, Raphael Varane and Jules Kounde – in what seems to be a very solid, yet young and experimental defence.

Kingsley Coman has started to play as a wing-back for them, and on the other flank is Ferland Mendy, whose performances have helped him to become a starter for his National Team.

Adrien Rabiot and Aurélien Tchouaméni will likely be the midfield partnership after N’Golo Kanté’s injury setback leaves him out of the tournament.

Up front, France will likely play with a trio of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé and Benzema. 

Attacking phase

France likes to use a possession-based style where players can move around the pitch, but also with certain roles to contribute in the build-up.


Players like Tchouaméni have become vital for the team because of their fantastic ability to break pressure between the lines, contributing both defensively and with attacking actions, just like he does for Real Madrid.

Yet, France have become a slow-tempo team that doesn’t find the correct answers quickly.

Tactically intelligent France can break the lines with ease

The team certainly has talent, but they are not living their best days tactically.

The team has the tactical intelligence talent to break the lines as we can see in the image above and the image below.

France play with a slow-tempo and don’t find the correct answers quickly

When France reaches the attacking zone, players like Griezmann and Benzema can create chances as well as score goals – yet the can also crowd spaces too frequently.

Below, ahead of the man on the ball, you can see all three players in the same zone leaving few passing options.

The French midfield can struggle to find a pass with attackers who bunch together

France has many different ways of scoring goals. The versatility of Kylian Mbappé is notable.

His long carries that start at the middle of the pitch and end up almost every time in a 1v1 duel against the goalkeeper are a strong weapon of the team of Deschamps.

But it is Griezmann who is really the orchestrator – as we can see below, he likes to take up space between the defence and the midfield and fire passes into the feet of the front two.

Antoine Griezmann likes to drop deep and start France’s attacks

When the midfielders and the attackers of France mix into a block before the box of the opponents, their creativity to find spaces is a strong weapon, due to the talent of names like Griezmann, Benzema, Mbappé and Rabiot.

Below, we can see an example of getting players into the box and quick, clever interplay between the attacking players.

Clever interplay in the box is a feature of France’s forwards

Defensive phase

France can defend using different formations including a line of 3 or 4 in defence.

Regardless of the formation, they have talent to defend and counter quickly when they recover the ball.

As we see below, their shape tries to stop the player on the ball having an easy pass into the attacking third – if any of the three players highlighted furthest from the ball win it, then they will have options in the three players highlighted higher up the pitch.

A structured shape allows France to counter quickly when they recover the ball

Below we can see that France have not been looking that good defensively in terms of their numbers. T

hey don’t win the ball back often, even less often high up the pitch.

That said, they concede few shots per game. We feel their best bet is to be as aggressive as possible and score goals early, dominating the games from the beginning. 

Transitions

In attacking transitions, ‘Les Bleus’ like to rely very much on the world’s best player running into space: Kylian Mbappé.

When the PSG player gets the ball, his impressive and almost unbeatable speed allows him to sprint towards the box, create chances for his teammates and of course, more importantly for him personally – score himself.

Defenders

France has good squad depth in the centre-back spot including names like William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Presnel Kimpembe, Raphael Varane. 

Full-backs are also well-covered and it’ll be another dilemma for Deschamps to select the best ones, with the likes of Ferland Mendy, Léo Dubois, Jonathan Clauss, Benjamin Pavard or Lucas Digne all available.

Midfielders

Midfield presents another tough selection for Deschamps – as if this squad could present any easy choices.

With the injury to N’Golo Kanté, the call for Tchouaméni and Adrien Rabiot to be the starters at the double-pivot is surely going to happen. 

Attackers

Having players like Kingsley Coman, Wissam Ben Yedder, Ousmane Dembélé or Christopher Nkunku to play alongside Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé has to be one of the most difficult decisions Deschamps is going to make.

Modern football can make it hard to distinguish between attackers and midfielders, especially when it comes to wingers.

But the French manager surely will have some of the greatest options possible compared with other coaches.

Key player

Karim Benzema has become the main man for France

Recent Ballon D’Or winner Karim Benzema has the chance to show what his football is capable of.

His magical season at Real Madrid where his team won the double thanks to his goals, assists and his synergy with the system and especially Vinicius Jr, has made him one of the standout players for the tournament and one to follow in his return to the France National Team.

Tournament prediction

Although France hasn’t been playing beautiful football in recent matches, and even in the recent major competitions, they always have an extremely talented squad with world-class players that can’t be underestimated.

It wouldn’t be a shock to see them progress to the semi-finals and even, once again, to the final of the World Cup, running it back to 2018 and the last edition of this most prestigious competition.

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Equally, they have it in their locker to combust and exit early – but probably not in the group stages.

They are in Group D where they’ll face Australia, Denmark and Tunisia, and they are expected to finish 1st in the Group, and they’ll probably face Poland or Mexico in the Round of 16.

For even more detailed analysis of all 32 teams in the FIFA World Cup 2022, download your copy of the November Total Football Analysis magazine here

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