Today will begin my series of posts focusing on countries who will be playing in this summer's tournament. Preliminary 30 man squads have been posted, and we have a pretty good idea for most teams who their most important players will be.
Let's start with France, specifically the incompetent manager of the French team, Raymond Domenech. Domenech has been known to select his starters based on astrology, propose to his girlfriend in post-match press conferences, and rely on aging players well past their prime.
The headlines about the French squad have focused on who was left off the list. Karim Benzema, whom Real Madrid paid over £35 million for last summer, will not be going to South Africa. He is only 22, and is a big part of France's future, but he has not had a good season. He started 20 games for Madrid in all competitions, and made 17 substitute appearances, scoring 12 goals.
Normally, I would agree with this decision. A young player, in poor form, not playing regularly for his club, does not deserve to get into a deep squad such as France. Here is the problem; An OLD player, in poor form, not playing regularly, also does not deserve to get into a deep squad such as France. 19 starts, 8 substitute appearances, and 4 goals is a far worse season than what Benzema had, yet it was enough to get Thierry Henry into the squad. Now maybe Henry has earned the benefit of the doubt based on his past performances, but for me he has not been an effective player in almost 2 seasons.
The second headline is about Patrick Vieira. The veteran holding midfielder, despite working his way into the Manchester City first team late in the season, was unable to secure a seat on the plane next month. I also agree with this decision. Vieira was poor his last season at Arsenal, and has never regained his form. He should announce his retirement from international football, as he deserves to go out gracefully.
The third headline is the one I really have a problem with. Samir Nasri, who has had a glorious season for Arsenal, and is a player I would probably rank as one of the ten best attacking midfielders in the world, will not be going to the World Cup. He is a joy to watch, as evidenced by his goal in the Champions League against Porto that sent the bar I was watching at into an uncontrollable frenzy. Now Nasri probably wouldn't have started for France, but he would have been a hell of an option off the bench, and a nice insurance policy given the unpredictability of Franck Ribery.
So, that covers the omissions from France's World Cup Squad. Tune in again tomorrow for a review of the players that will be representing Les Bleus this summer.