Giroud and Varane in Deschamps’ France World Cup squad
France coach Didier Deschamps included Raphael Varane in his World Cup squad on Wednesday despite the defender’s recent injury struggles, while in-form striker Olivier Giroud has also been called up.
Deschamps has selected 25 of a possible 26 players for the tournament in Qatar, where France will try to become the first team to defend their World Cup title since Brazil in 1962.
Eleven members of the 2018 title-winning squad return, including captain Hugo Lloris and reserve goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, as well as Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.
Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, who has missed a string of games for Real Madrid this season through injury, is set for his first World Cup appearance since 2014.
Benzema was banned from the France squad for five and a half years due to his role in a blackmail scandal involving a sex tape and his international teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
He was convicted for his role in the affair last year, but had by then returned to the France side, playing at Euro 2020 and in the team that won the UEFA Nations League.
Giroud, 36, is two goals away from equaling Thierry Henry’s national record of 51 goals. He played in every World Cup game in Russia but didn’t score.
Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Presnel Kimpembe was chosen despite thigh and Achilles problems which have limited him to five appearances since early September.
Varane will have gone a month without playing when the Blues meet Australia in their World Cup opener on November 22.
“The two cases are different,” Deschamps told TF1. “Kimpembe had a small problem but he will be available for his club for the last league match on Sunday.
“Varane has a longer-term injury but he too could be available against Australia if all goes well.”
Deschamps has plenty of central defense coverage with William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Jules Kounde and Ibrahima Konate in the squad. Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez can also fill in.
Mandanda, 37, took the place of AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan, hampered by a calf injury.
France are without first-choice midfield duo Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, leaving Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot as likely starters.
They will be supported by Monaco’s Youssouf Fofana, Real Madrid’s Eduardo Camavinga and Marseille duo Jordan Veretout and Matteo Guendouzi.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Rennes/FRA), Alphonse Areola (West Ham United/ENG)
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich/GER), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan/ITA), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool/ENG), Jules Kounde (Barcelona/ESP), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich /GER), William Saliba (Arsenal/ENG), Raphael Varane (Manchester United/ENG), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich/GER)
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid/ESP), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus/ITA), Aurélien Tchouaméni (Real Madrid/ESP), Jordan Veretout (Marseille)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona/ESP), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan/ITA), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig/GER)