Tuesday, October 14, 2014

France All-Time 23 member Team

World Cup 1998
This is my all-time team for France. If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

France is the founding member of both FIFA and UEFA.  They also organized the first European Championship. They have two very successful periods in history.  From 1982 to 1986, they won the European Championship in 1984 and reached the semifinals of both World Cup in 1982 and 1986.  Then, in 1998, "Les Bleus" won their first World Cup and followed by another European Championship in 2000.  France also had a great team in the1958 World Cup Finals.  They came third.  Just Fontaine scored 13 goals and Raymond Kopa won the Ballon d'Or that year.

France winning Euro 1984

GK:  Julien Darui
In 1999, he was elected best French goalkeeper of the century by L'Équipe.  Born in Luxembourg during World War I, Darui was capped 25 times for France.

GK: Fabien Barthez
He is France's most decorated goalkeeper.  He won the WC in 1998 at home and then, the European Championship two years later. He won  Champions League medal with Marseille in 1993.  He had 87 caps for "Les Bleus".

Fabien Barthez
GK:  Pierre Chayrigues
The youngest ever keeper capped by France when he was first capped in 1911 and the first prominent French goalkeeper.  He was part of France national football team squad at the 1924 Summer Olympics.

RB/LB:  Manuel Amoros
Widely considered to be France's greatest fullback.  He played in the European Championships finals of 1984 and 1992, and the World Cup finals in 1982 and 1986.  He won the Champions League with Marseille in 1993. He also played for Monaco and Lyons.

RB/CB:  Lilian Thuram
Thuram is France's most capped player.  He was known for his strength, pace and stamina.  He played at the top flight in France, Italy and Spain for over 15 seasons, including ten in the Serie A with both Parma and Juventus. With France, Thuram won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, and was in the runner-up squad for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.  He scored two goals vs Croatia in the semifinal of the WC in 1998. 
Thuram vs Croatia

CB:  Marius Tresor
Named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers.  He was the French captain before Platini's arrival. He went to the World Cup in 1978 and 1982.  In 1982, he scored one of the extra time goal against West Germany at the semifinal. He also played for Olympique de Marseille and Girondins de Bordeaux.

CB:  Laurent Blanc
Nicknamed  "Le Président" for leadership skills.  He was a member of the French team that won the WC 1998 at home and Euro 2000 in Belgium and Holland.  He played for Montpellier, Napoli, Barcelona, Marseille, Internazionale and Manchester United.

CB:  Robert Jonquet
He played with the legendary Stade de Reims in the 1950's. He was also the captain of the French national team during that era and went to the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

CB/DM:  Marcel Desailly
Marcel Desailly was considered to be one of the greatest defensive players during the 1990's.  He played 116 times for France, winning the WC in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.  He was the first player to win the European Cup in consecutive seasons with different clubs, when he won it with Marseille in 1993 and AC Milan the following year.
Marcel Desailly

CB/LB:  Maxime Bossis
Named Footballer of the Year by France Football in 1979 and 1981.  He won the European Championship in 1984.  He went to the World Cup in both 1978, 1982 and 1986.  He was a star of the great Nantes team of the 1980's.

LB:  Bixente Lizarazu
Bixente Lizarazu was the leftback for the all-conquering French team of 1998 and 2000.  He was also a star at Bayern Munich for 9 seasons. He won the Champions' League in 2001. He is a Basque and played for Atletico Bilbao.

DM:  Didier Deschamps
He was only the second captain in history to lift the three big trophies: the Champions League trophy, the World Cup trophy and the European Championship trophy.  The prime of his career was spent with Marseille and Juventus, where he won a Champions League for each club.
Didier Deschamps
CM: Jean Tigana
He was a member of the great French side of the 1980's.  He won the Euro 1984 playing in the famous "Magic Square". He played with Bordeaux for eight years, winning three league titles and three French Cups.

CM: Alain Giresse
He was the French footballer of the year in 1982, 1983 and 1987. He was part of the "Magic Square" that won the European Cup n 1984.  He also played in the WC finals in 1982 and 1986.  He played with Tigana at Bordeaux, a side that dominated French football in that period.

CM: Patrick Vieira
He is an Arsenal all-time great.  He won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.  In England. he was famous for his rivalry with Roy Keane.  With "Les Bleus", he won the WC in 1998 and European Championship in 2000.  He earned 107 caps.

AM: Michel Platini
Michel Platini is one of the greatest footballers of all time.  He scored 9 of France's 14 goals as they won Euro 1984 at home.  It was probably the greatest individual performance in a tournament.  He won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1983, 1984 and 1985.  With Juventus, he won the European Cup in 1985, the first ever for the club.
Michel Platini at Euro 1984

AM: Zinedine Zidane
He was named the best European footballer of the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll, and has been described as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.  He won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times.  He led France to victory at  the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.  With Real Madrid, he also won the Champions League in 2002, where he scored one of the greatest goals in history at the Final. 

Zinedine Zidane

AM/RW: Raymond Kopa 
He was considered to be "Les Bleus"'s greatest player before the emerge of Platini. He won the the European Footballer of the Year in 1958 and three European Cups with Real Madrid in the 1950's.  He also played with Stade de Reims before joining the legendary Real Madrid team of the 1950's. 
Raymond Kopa 

RW/LW: Franck Ribery
Ribery is one of the best French players of his generation.  Individually, Ribéry is a three-time winner of the French Player of the Year award and has also won the German Footballer of the Year becoming the first player to hold both honours.  He won the Champions' League in 2013 with Bayern Munich. He played in two World Cup Finals and helping France to a 2nd place in 2006.

RW/LW:  Robert Pires
Pires played for Metz, Marseilles, Villarreal ands Aston Villa, but remembered as a part of the "French Connection" at Arsenal.  He played there from 2000 to 2006.  For France, he won the WC in 1998 and European Championship in 2000.  He was capped 79 times.

FW:  Theirry Henry
Henry is the all-time leading scorer for both Arsenal and France.  He was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, and the FWA Footballer of the Year three times. He started with AS Monaco in 1994. The, he spent 8 seasons with Arsenal, where he enjoyed the peak of his career. He earned 123 caps and was a part of France's Golden Team form 1998 to 2002.
Thierry Henry
ST:  Just Fontaine
Fontaine is the record holder for most goals scored in a single edition of the World Cup.  He scored 13 goals in 6 matches in the 1958 WC Finals in Sweden.  He won 21 caps scoring 30 goals. He started with RSM Casablanca and Nice before starring for Stade de Reims of the 1950's.

ST:  Jean Pierre Papin
He is the Ballon d'Or winner in 1991. He was a member of the great Marseille team of the 1990's, but left the season before they lifted their first ever European Cup.  He later played for AC Milan, FC Bayern Munich, Bordeaux, Guingamp, JS Saint-Pierroise and US Cap-Ferret. Papin also played 54 times for the French national team. 

Honorable Mention
Larbi Benbarek, Roger Marche, Luis Fernandez, Claude Makelele, Youri Djorkaeff, Eric Cantona, Patrice Evra, Hugo Lloris.

Squad Explanation
-- Fabien Barthez is France's most decorated keeper, but Hugo Lloris might have been better.  I still selected Barthez over him.
-- Larbi Benbarek was not selected because the team already had Kopa, Zidane and Platini.  Instead, I picked two wide players Ribery and Pires to give more width to the offense. 
-- I also took Alain Giresse because he formed a partnership with Platini and Tigana. 
-- Luis Fernandez, the final member of the "Magic Square" missed out because of Marcel Desailly, Patrick Vieira and Didier Deschamps.
-- Deschamps was selected because of his leadership.  Otherwise, I would have selected Luis Fernandez or Makelele. 
-- I dropped Roger Marche because Amoros and Bossis could cover the right back position.

Starting lineup
Formation I: 4-4-2
The formation is based upon the "Magic Square" formation of the 1980's.  Platini, Bossis, Tresor and Amoros played in this "Magic Square" formation in the same position during the 1980's.   For my team, Desailly starts in the midfield because he was a better defender than the other alternatives.  Thuram was moved to the central back because he should be a better partner for Tresor.  Blanc was too similar to Tresor. 

Formation II: 4-2-3-1
This should be the more realistic formation.  Raymond Kopa played on the right side for Real Madrid and Zidane also played on the left for them as well.   At the 2006 World Cup Finals, Henry was a lone striker so he knew this role well.  Tigana is not the automatic starter.  I am happy to switch him with Vieira, Giresse or even Deschamps.

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