Soccer

Several notable omissions in France's 23-man World Cup team

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The Canadian Press
5/13/2014 4:56:58 PM
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PARIS -- France coach Didier Deschamps has left Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri out of the squad of 23 players he plans to take to the World Cup.

Monaco centerback Eric Abidal, Manchester City leftback Gael Clichy and Lyon playmaker Yoann Gourcuff were also overlooked.

"It's not necessarily the 23 best French players, but it's the best squad in my eyes to go as far as possible in this competition," Deschamps said. "The best solution was to give a list of 23 players right from the start, to create a good mindset, so there would be no sense of insecurity.

"When you give a list of 30 players, you have about 15 players who could be worried about making the cut or not."

Deschamps, who also named seven players on standby in case of injuries, doesn't need to communicate his 23-man squad to FIFA until June 2.

Deschamps captained France to glory at the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship. He became the national coach in 2012.

Nasri scored seven goals and had seven assists in the Premier League this season. But it was not enough to convince Deschamps.

"Samir's performances with the France team were not at the level of his performances with his club," Deschamps said. "He's an important player and a regular starter at Manchester City. That's not the case today with the France team.

"And he also said he's not happy when he's a substitute. I can tell you that you can feel it in the squad. Because of those two or three reasons, I decided not to select him in this squad."

Nasri was hit with a three-match ban by the French Football Federation for his behaviour at the 2012 European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, where he aimed an expletive-laced tirade at a journalist after a 2-0 quarterfinal loss to Spain.

The exclusion of Abidal and Gourcuff from the list was less surprising. Abidal proved a key player when France was the runner-up at the 2006 World Cup but he has lost his starting spot at Monaco in the past few of months, while Gourcuff had an injury-plagued season.

"At the human level, living together for such a long time with players who have strong characters and personalities requires harmony and an ability to live together and make the common interest prevail," Deschamps said.

The entire France squad went on strike four years ago to protest the expulsion of Nicolas Anelka, who had insulted then coach Raymond Domenech during a 2-0 loss to Mexico at the World Cup in South Africa.

The French federation punished Anelka and three players for their role in the mutiny. Anelka received an 18-match ban while Patrice Evra was suspended for five games, Franck Ribery for three and Jeremy Toulalan for a single match.

"I don't pretend that nothing will happen," Deschamps said. "Things could happen, things will happen, but I hope it will be positive things."

Deschamps will especially rely on Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba to go through the group stage.

France will open its World Cup campaign against Honduras on June 15 before facing Switzerland and Ecuador in Group E. Les Bleus will warm up for the tournament in Brazil by playing against Norway, Paraguay and Jamaica in friendlies.

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: Mickael Landreau (Bastia), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Paris Saint-Germain), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal).

Midfielders: Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Yohan Cabaye (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Grenier (Lyon), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).

Forwards: Loic Remy (Newcastle), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad).

List of seven back-up players: Stephane Ruffier (Saint-Etienne), Loic Perrin (Saint-Etienne), Benoit Tremoulinas (Saint-Etienne), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Remy Cabella (Montpellier), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon).

Didier Deschamps (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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