Didier Deschamps likes to remind people that an international match is never trivial. The French coach has not changed his mind for this last meeting of the year against Sweden in a match that the success against Portugal (1-0) made without sporting stake, but not without interest. Seven months before the Euro, it is for some one of the last opportunities to imprint some certainties in the minds of the French staff. Next year, there will be only one rally in March before the publication of the list of players selected to go for a third European coronation. “In Blue, all the matches are good to take, summarizes captain Hugo Lloris. If you want to settle in the long term, you have to come with this state of mind. “Against Sweden, several players will have to give substance to the hypothesis that the catastrophic performance against Finland (0-2) was only an accident.
Clement Lenglet. 2019 was the year of the irresistible rise of the Barcelona defender. Propelled instead of a Samuel Umtiti disturbed by injuries, he had signed seven starts in a row. His tactical rigor, his appetite for duels and his reminders had convinced the staff to make him the ideal partner of Raphaël Varane despite a very big ball in November against Moldova (2-1). The year 2020 marks a sharp decline in its rating. In the line of less successful services in Catalonia, he lost credit in Blue to the benefit of Presnel Kimpembe who was preferred to him during the two shocks against Portugal. If his place in the 23 is not called into question, he will have to be convincing to dislodge the Parisian world champion.
Kurt Zouma. Called for the first time in 2013, the Chelsea defender is a former member of the Blues, although he is only an occasional guest. Zouma has only six caps and has not experienced any major competition. Still called up in 2019, he seemed to hold the rope to be Raphaël Varane’s lining. But the outbreak of Dayot Upamecano, summoned for the first time in September and then in October, before being left at the disposal of the Hopes in November (injured, he had to give up) constitutes a threat which is nothing ghostly after the delicate performance against Finland. And behind still push the hopes Jules Koundé (Seville) and Wesley Fofana (Leicester). Talents that must give Zouma reasons to raise his game in Blue to the level observed since the start of the season with the Blues.
Steven Nzonzi. The surprise guest of the 2018 World Cup had greatly participated in the conquest of the title, playing five games in Russia including a good half hour of the final against Croatia (4-2). This status had not prevented him from moving away from the Blues all year 2019 before returning to grace since September where he started four of the seven games. But the new dimension of Adrien Rabiot and especially the emergence of Eduardo Camavinga make the position of the midfielder of almost 32 years difficult to maintain. Even more in view of rather dull outings under the tricolor jersey. Enough to darken its international future.
Moussa Sissoko. He is the field player present for the longest in Blue (2009) and a symbol of the mandate of Didier Deschamps who had made him one of his executives before deciding, death in the soul, not to summon him for the World Cup 2018. His versatility and his state of mind have long been his strengths, but his game without ideas against Finland has highlighted that alone, he was not able to take on a managerial role. In the middle as on one side, he suffers from a young and talented competition even if at 31 years old, he remains a very sure value of the Tottenham of José Mourinho. There aren’t many opportunities left for him to convince Deschamps not to let him watch the train slip by under his nose again.
Marcus Thuram. The Mönchengladbach striker will have at least a third opportunity to shake up the hierarchy. Against Finland, he had been amazing but awkward for his first. Then too discreet in a burning end of the match against Portugal. In attack, places will be expensive behind Mbappé, Griezmann, Giroud, Coman and Martial. Absent against Sweden due to Covid-19, Ben Yedder seems to be ahead and Thuram is not immune from a return from Dembélé or a surprise guest. Before him, there were dozens of them who knew only one international convocation. It’s up to him to make him want to see him again.