Who should feature in France's attack at the 2018 World Cup?
It's no secret that France are among the top contenders for the 2018 World Cup title. Didier Deschamps has an extremely deep, talented team at his disposal. Heck, he could very well lineup two different XIs, with both contending for a spot in a potential final. They are THAT good, so being Deschamps right now must be one tough job. It's not easy to select 23 players when you have 40 or 50 with enough quality to take aboard the plane to Russia.
It's all a matter of choices for the former Juventus midfielder, then. Deschamps needs to call-up the players he thinks will perform better according to his system. So without further ado, let's take a look at which players would fit seamlessly within France's attacking line as we rapidly approach the summer and the World Cup.
Who has a spot confirmed?
No matter which tactical system you want to use, France has two world-class players that should be considered starters in any given situation. These are Kylian Mbappe, from PSG, and Antoine Griezmann, from Atletico Madrid. Their versatility on the attacking end, coupled with their keen eye for goal should boost France's chance in a huge way, scoring goals and assists aplenty between them.
The tactical aspect can be important for France. Mbappe has played in various positions for PSG this season, offering himself as an option in almost every position in the final third. Griezmann generally plays as a centre-forward for Atletico Madrid, but he can drift in and out of the box with relative ease. This flexibility could be extremely useful, particularly if Deschamps wants to play with a target man, like Olivier Giroud for example.
Which players would merit a potential call-up?
The real question starts here because it is quite complicated to determine which players would be the best fits alongside Griezmann and Mbappe. While there are French players scoring goals at will in almost every single league in the world, it wouldn't hurt to look at the Ligue 1 to find some answers. Three homegrown names keep cropping up: Florian Thauvin (Marseille), Nabil Fekir (Lyon) and Thomas Lemar (Monaco). Each individual has enough merits to deserve a spot in the World Cup roster in June.
Thauvin has been up there amongst the most productive players all over Europe this term, scoring 15 goals and adding 10 assists in 26 Ligue 1 appearances. Fekir has come close to match that production thanks to 21 goals and six assists in 32 matches across all competitions. Lemar, though, only has two goals and six assists, but the 22-year-old fits in well with what Deschamps wants to do. The AS Monaco man also has a great deal of understanding with both Mbappe and Griezmann. That's something that cannot be coached.
Which players are on the verge of missing out?
Last but not least, we have three players who are on the verge when it comes to securing a World Cup berth. These are attackers who have played for Les Bleus in the past and have proven that have enough quality to deserve a spot, but ultimately, injuries or managerial choices could see them miss out altogether. Among these we can find Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Ousmane Dembele (FC Barcelona) and Dimitri Payet (Marseille).
From the five, Giroud seems to be the one with a bigger chance to make the cut since he is the only target man whom Deschamps has within the setup, and he could pose an intriguing aerial threat. Lacazette and Martial are just far too similar to other available options, the same could be said about Payet, who would likely compete with Fekir and Thauvin for a place on the plane.
Dembele is an intriguing case. The former Dortmund star hasn't been able to adapt to Barcelona and injuries have complicated him a great deal. Time is still on his side, but if he doesn't play regularly, then he might miss out on the World Cup despite the fact he is up there amongst the most talented U21 players within the beautiful game.