PARIS (Reuters) - France’s squad for the World Cup finals comprises the following 23 players:
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur) Age 27; 56 caps. Although he has had a difficult season behind an unreliable Tottenham defence, Lloris remains the undisputed No.1 having never disappointed with France. A soft-spoken character, he has even been awarded the captain’s armband by former coach Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps did not take it away from him as Lloris can raise his voice when needed.
Mickael Landreau (Bastia) Age 35; 11 caps. Retired at the end of the Ligue 1 season, picked by Didier Deschamps to be the No.3. Unlikely to play a minute but his experience is an asset.
Stephane Ruffier (St Etienne) Age 27; 2 caps. Born in the Basque country, Ruffier is a gifted shot-stopper who became St Etienne’s first choice at the expense of the experienced Jeremie Janot. Won his place in the squad after Steve Mandanda suffered an injury. He will be No.2 at the World Cup.
Patrice Evra (Manchester United) Age 33; 57 caps. Was France captain when Les Bleus went on strike at the 2010 World Cup. Came back after a five-game suspension but has failed to shine with the national team, showing too many defensive weaknesses. A likely starter as he does not really face competition for his place. Like many of his club mates has had a difficult season at Manchester United.
Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) Age 28; 17 caps. Centre back whose main asset is his sense of anticipation. A decent tackler, he sometimes jumps the gun and has been giving away too many penalties with Arsenal and France.
Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) Age 21; 5 caps. One of France’s hottest prospects, centre back Varane shows impressive composure for a young player, dubbed the “best young central defender in the world” by his former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho. Injury prone, though.
Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool) Age 24; 18 caps. Moved to Liverpool after his progression was barred by Alex and Thiago Silva at Paris St Germain, but struggled a bit to settle in to the pace and rhythm of the Premier League. His physical power and sense of anticipation, though, have won over Brendan Rodgers and the Parisian-born defender has been featuring more lately.
Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) Age 31; 40 caps. Has lost his place as a regular starter since a broken leg ruled out him out of Euro 2012. Still a decent replacement for first choice Mathieu Debuchy despite a complicated season with Arsenal.
Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United) Age 28; 20 caps. Beat Sagna over the years for the right-back position, especially because his final ball is much better than the Arsenal defender. Does a good job in the defensive tasks as well.
Lucas Digne (Paris St Germain) Age 20; 2 caps. Possibly Patrice Evra’s eventual replacement at left back. Shows great pace and brings the ball forward, but needs to improve defensively.
Eliaquim Mangala (Porto) Age 23; 3 caps. A composed centre back who reads the game well and has great pace. He is good at anticipating and at bringing the ball out of the defence, although he sometimes leaves gaps behind him.
Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain) Age 27; 22 caps. Has incredible pace and covers a lot of space in the midfield. A box-to-box player whose passing abilities have improved in the last two seasons. Still needs some technical fine tuning to become the real deal.
Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United) Age 28; 29 caps. Took a massive gamble when he left Newcastle United to join Paris St Germain in January, but managed to settle at the French champions albeit as second-choice behind Thiago Motta in the pecking order. Long unable to up his level in the big games, has improved in that area and was widely regarded as Newcastle’s best player before he left England.
Paul Pogba (Juventus) Age 21; 10 caps. In England they say of Pogba “the one Alex Ferguson should not have let go” following his departure from Manchester United in 2012 after only a handful of games for the club. Another defensive midfielder with a box-to-box drive, the 2013 Golden Boy award winner also has penchant for goal and for the spectacular. He has quickly made it to the first team at Juventus and is already a starter for France. Oozes class and talent.
Rio Mavuba (Lille) Age 30; 11 caps. A tireless holding midfieler, who can deputise for Yohan Cabaye. Has struggled with injuries but returned to the France squad in time for the World Cup after a 20-month hiatus.
Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United) Age 24; 16 caps. A
defensive midfielder with a lot of offensive aptitudes, can also play in a playmaking position although Deschamps is highly unlikely to play him in that role. Rather a right-flank midfielder replacement.
Clement Grenier (Olympique Lyon) Age 23; 5 caps. A creative midfielder with an offensive mind. Unlikely to be in the starting 11, but good with free kicks.
Loic Remy (Newcastle United) Age 27; 24 caps. Second-choice on the right wing behind Mathieu Valbuena, Remy has enjoyed a good season at Newcastle, where he has confirmed he had a decent eye for goal. Can also play on the left.
Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) Age 31; 81 caps. Dubbed “the jewel of French football”, Ribery has gained in maturity while recovering the joy of his early years -- a dangerous combination for France’s rivals. The speedy Bayer Munich winger is Les Bleus’s number one weapon. Has been France’s Player of the Year three times, Germany’s Player of the Year once and finished third in FIFA’s Ballon d‘Or for the best player in the world last year behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Suffered from back pains in the run-up to the World Cup.
Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille) Age 29; 33 caps. A duty player who relishes combat despite his small size, the diminutive winger is a good dribbler and not one to make trouble. One of Deschamps’s favourites.
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) Age 27; 29 caps. Off-field problems have marred his season although he has not lost his scoring touch, but it was not enough to permanently secure the lone forward position in France’s 4-3-3 system. Good in the air, holds play for other forwards but blows hot and cold for Arsenal where the fans love him one minute and curse him the next.
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) Age 26; 65 caps. Benzema seems to have finally shed the extra kilos that previously prevented him to hit top form and has rediscovered his scoring touch with France after a 1,222-minute drought. Finding his mark as France’s lone forward, he can also play in a deeper role. Has repaid Real’s faith in him when they signed him for some 40.0 million euros from Olympique Lyonnais in 2009.
Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad) Age 23; 3 cap. A threat on indirect set pieces, Griezmann also likes to cut inside. Only has three caps for France but he has a good eye for goal, a clear asset in a team who lacks killer instinct up front. Likely to play on the left wing should Ribery need to rest.
* Caps correct up to and including May 31
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Mike Collet and Toby Davis