Samir Nasri’s omission from the France World Cup squad caused great surprise among many fans and pundits during the past 24 hours. However, for a nation that has had its share of player revolts and theatrics over the course of the last four major tournaments, head coach Didier Deschamps cannot be faulted for his desire to weed potentially divisive influences out of Les Blues’ dressing room.
Nasri’s disruptiveness to his club side Manchester City was so apparent last season that former manager Roberto Mancini once said “I wanted to punch Nasri” in regards to the player’s indifference during matches. But this season, under Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini, Nasri has been one of the most creatively influential players in England’s top flight, and scored the goal on Sunday that clinched the league title for his club.
Deschamps’ formation of choice is a 4-3-3, which also makes Nasri’s tactical influence negligible. The likely three man midfield for France will feature former Newcastle man Yohan Cabaye, his current PSG teammate Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba playing in a more defensive role. In the attacking end, European Footballer of the Year Franck Ribéry and Mathieu Valbuena will flank Karim Benzema in the middle.
Nasri’s Manchester City teammate Gaël Clichy, a left-back has been in and out of the Blues lineup all season, was also omitted in favor of young PSG starlet Lucas Digne who has just one senior national team cap currently.
France’s 23-man World Cup squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mickaël Landreau (Bastia)
Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Lucas Digne (PSG) Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (PSG), Clément Grenier (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Loïc Rémy (Newcastle), Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich)
Stand-by players: Stéphane Ruffier (Monaco), Loïc Perrin (St Etienne), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Benoît Trémoulinas (Dynamo Kiev), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), Rémy Cabella (Montpellier)