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Rediff.com  » Sports » Penpix of France's World Cup squad

Penpix of France's World Cup squad

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May 29, 2006 19:56 IST

France's squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the following 23 players:

(Statistics up to and including May 25 2006)

GOALKEEPERS

1-Mickael Landreau (Nantes) Born: 14.5.79 Caps: 3 Goals: 0

Patient and cool-minded, he is particularly impressive in penalty shootouts. Widely expected to become number one choice when Barthez and Coupet eventually retire. He last played for Les Bleus in the 0-0 draw against Poland at the Stade de France.

Has said he will leave Nantes this year and is expected to sign for Paris St Germain.

16-Fabien Barthez (Olympique Marseille) Born: 28.6.71 Caps: 77. Goals: 0

Once considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Barthez is now struggling to retain his position as number one in the French set-up.

The shaven-headed keeper was a World Cup winner in 1998 and won the European title with France in 2000. His experience could be key in do-or-die games. Served a five-month suspension for spitting at a referee last year. Conceded two goals in his comeback outing as France snatched a 3-2 victory over Costa Rica last November and two more in a 2-1 home defeat by Slovakia in March.

23-Gregory Coupet (Olympique Lyon) Born: 31.12.72 Caps: 18 Goals: 0

Efficiently replaced Barthez during his absence and now has a strong claim to be the first-choice keeper for his country.

After winning four domestic titles with Olympique Lyon, appears to be at his very best. Made a string of fine saves in Lyon's O-0 draw with AC Milan in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final.

DEFENDERS  

5-William Gallas (Chelsea, England) Born: 17.8.79 Caps: 37 Goals: 1

The key defender for coach Domenech, who has played every international but one since France's failure at Euro 2004.

He would prefer to play in a central defensive role but Domenech prefers to use him on the flanks of the defence which Gallas repeatedly complains about.

15-Lilian Thuram (Juventus, Italy) Born: 1.1.72 Caps: 111 Goals: 2

Veteran Thuram is France's current most capped player after returning to the national side following a short self-imposed international retirement. Quit after Les Bleus were eliminated in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004 but decided to return to help the struggling national squad out of a tricky qualifying campaign. Natural-born leader, he has brought back some steel and confidence to the defence.

If France go far enough in the World Cup he could beat the national record of 116 caps set by former captain Marcel Desailly.

13-Mikael Silvestre (Manchester United) Born: 9.8.77 Caps: 37 Goals: 0  

The Manchester United defender has played only two games since Raymond Domenech took over from Jacques Santini. However, his experience is a big asset despite shaky performances at Euro 2004.

A versatile defender who can play as a centre back or a left fullback, Silvestre will probably not feature in France's starting 11 but is one of Les Bleus' most impressive substitutes.

21-Pascal Chimbonda (Wigan Athletic) Born: 21.2.79 Caps: 0 Goals: 0

The Wigan Athletic defender has been voted this season's Premier League's best right fullback by the Professional Footballers' Association. He had never been called up by Domenech and his inclusion was a surprise to many French fans.

Could be an efficient deputy for Bayern Munich's Willy Sagnol after his impressive season with promoted Wigan. Wants to leave the club and has been approached by Tottenham Hotspur.

2-Jean-Alain Boumsong (Newcastle United, England). Born: 14.12.79 Caps: 18 Goals: 1

Has imposed himself as a solid and tough libero since Monaco's Gael Givet and Sebastien Squillaci proved insufficiently reliable during the qualifiers.

Still needs to show more initiative at carrying the ball up front as he rarely crosses the halfway line during a match. His towering height of 1.92 metres makes him difficult to beat in the air although he has had a rocky season in England with Newcastle.

19-Willy Sagnol (Bayern Munich, Germany) Born: 18.3.77 Caps: 35 Goals: 0

Had to be content with a place on the bench for several seasons, and in his typically outspoken manner often complained he was treated unfairly when he was called up for the national team.

Started his career as a striker and is still highly adept at going forward playing as an effective attacking winger when the play dictates. Broke his leg during the 3-1 victory over Switzerland in the opening round of Euro 2004 which sidelined him for five months.

17-Gael Givet (Monaco) Born: 9.10.81 Caps: 11 Goals: 0

Failed to confirm he was the sweeper France were looking for after former captain Marcel Desailly retired in 2004. Domenech used him like a regular first choice alongside team mate Sebastien Squillaci in the first games of the qualifying campaign -- but he lost his place when Thuram came back.

A tireless, brave worker, he still needs to lift the level of his game when he plays for France. Can make mistakes when put under heavy pressure.

3-Eric Abidal (Olympique Lyon) Born: 11.7.79 Caps: 5 Goals: 0

A talented and strong-minded player. Belongs to the new generation of players being nurtured by Domenech and was first called up in July 2004. Joined Olympique Lyon the same year and helped the club to clinch their fourth consecutive title.

Broke a foot during the 3-2 victory over Costa Rica in November's friendly in Martinique.

MIDFIELDERS

6-Claude Makelele (Chelsea, England) Born: 18.2.73 Caps: 40 Goal: 0

The self-possessed Chelsea midfielder has been outstanding since returning for France along with Zidane and Thuram in August. Was particularly impressive in the 1-0 win over Ireland in Dublin in September. His experience and skills have brought back greater confidence in the French defence.

Capable of keeping the ball as well as sharing the playmaking role, he is an element in the team and a ball provider for Zidane.  

4-Patrick Vieira (Juventus, Italy) Born 23.6.76 Caps: 84 Goals: 4

A recurrent groin problem has left France's Senegal-born former captain chasing his best form since he joined Juventus from Arsenal last year, but Arsenal have suffered without his rugged and commanding presence in midfield.

Appointed skipper when defender Marcel Desailly retired and Zidane shelved his international career last year but he was more than happy to give the armband back to Zidane when he returned to the side.

One of the world's best midfielders who can defend, create goals and score in almost equal measure.

10-Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid, Spain) Born: 23.6.72 Caps: 99 Goals: 28

The World Cup will mark the end of his glittering career after he announced he would retire as a player after the finals. Came out of retirement to help his country qualify for the World Cup finals after originally deciding to end his international career after Les Bleus were eliminated in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004.

Is no longer be the player who led France to the 1998 World title and the European title in 2000 but remains essential to a squad which depends on him. The former European Footballer of the Year has lost some of his pace but his lethal skills are intact.  

8-Vikash Dhorasoo (Paris St Germain) Born: 10.10.73 Caps: 15 Goal:1

Ignored by former coaches Roger Lemerre and Jacques Santini, but became a regular first choice in the midfield under Domenech.

His style of swift runs and one-two moves is very much like Youri Djorkaeff's. Always tries to bring the ball forward. Forces opponent's defenders to foul him when close to the box. Can easily assume the playmaking role when Zidane is absent.

18-Alou Diarra (Racing Lens) 15.7.81 Caps: 8 Goals: 0

Tall and physically strong, he is the perfect replacement for Vieira in the defensive midfield role. Has great pace and rarely loses the ball.

Was particularly impressive in his last two outings against Costa Rica and Germany when he proved he has everything it takes to become a leader in the squad. Domenech has great faith in him. Still needs to gain experience and to take more initiative.

7-Florent Malouda (Olympique Lyon) Born: 13.6.80 Caps: 10 Goals: 1

Another of Domenech's skilled proteges. More a winger than a playmaker and able to carry the ball at pace, he puts enormous pressure on opponents' defences. Delivers good crosses and has improved greatly since joining Olympique Lyon in 2003.

22-Franck Ribery (Olympique Marseille) Born: 1.4.83 Caps: 0 Goals: 0

Still plays for the under-21 national team and has yet to make his full debut but his talent and skill are highly regarded and he has been compared to Zidane at the same age.

Voted best player in Ligue 1 last October, he is the rising star of French soccer, a position enhanced since he returned to Olympique Marseille from Galatasaray last summer.

FORWARDS

12-Thierry Henry (Arsenal, England) Born: 17.8.77. Caps: 76 Goals: 31

Arguably one of the best players in the world on current form and has become the highest scorer in Arsenal's history. His pace, skill and devastating eye for goal have seen him mature into a clinical scorer after a relatively indifferent early career as a winger. Oddly, for France he has traditionally played as a provider for Trezeguet. At club level, he is the main target man.  

Has taken part in all of France's campaigns since 1998 except the 2001 Confederations Cup in Japan. This season he became the first man to be voted England's Footballer of the Year for a third time. Was in the Arsenal team beaten by Barcelona in the Champions League final in Paris.

20-David Trezeguet (Juventus, Italy) 15.10.77 Caps: 61 Goals: 31

Netted the golden goal to give his country the European title in 2000. Has scored more than 100 goals for Juventus, breaking the mark of his illustrious elder Michel Platini who scored 104 for the Italians.

A potential match winner, he missed France's last four qualifying matches. Was suspended for head butting and got injured.

He is the perfect partner for Henry but the two of them started only one game together in the Euro qualifiers when Les Bleu were held to a 1-1 draw by Sweden in February.

9-Djibril Cisse (Liverpool, England) Born: 12.8.81 Caps: 27 Goals: 9

Still has to show what he is really worth in an international tournament. Was a replacement in the 2002 World Cup and was absent through suspension in the 2004 European championship.  

His sprinting speed without the ball matches that of a 100 metre athlete and the power of his shots can be devastating.

Has had an erratic 18 months at Liverpool where he seems to either be in or out of favour on an almost weekly basis. Scored an excellent volleyed goal for Liverpool in the FA Cup final in May.

11-Sylvain Wiltord (Olympique Lyon) Born: 10.5.74 Caps: 77 Goals: 25

A versatile player who can play as a right winger or as a midfielder. Is enjoying life at Lyon after never truly establishing himself at Arsenal. A tireless worker who supports both the attack and defence.

14-Louis Saha (Manchester United, England) Born: 8.8.78. Caps: 8. Goals: 2

Has not won a cap since a 0-0 draw against Poland on Nov. 17, 2004 but his scintillating form for the past two months has forced him back into the World Cup reckoning.

Saha, who joined United from Fulham in January 2004 for 12.82 million pounds ($22.52 million), has pushed Dutch scoring machine Ruud Van Nistelrooy on to the Old Trafford substitutes' bench, which says it all.

Source:
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