Why the Injury Crisis May be a Blessing in Disguise for France

Before taking the flight to Doha, a lot had been made of France’s injury crisis. Now surely the majority of World Cup participants are having to do without some of their finest stars, but it seems that the defending champions have been deprived from a handful of key players.

When Les Bleus were crowned champions in Moscow, Didier Deschamps had relied on a superb midfield trio. But with Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté injured, and Blaise Matuidi long-retired, the manager had to find himself new players to carry the torch.

To make matters worse, Karim Benzema was ruled out of the tournament just days before the first kickoff, while Lucas Hernandez sustained a nasty injury during France’s opening match against Australia.

In hindsight, this appears to be a recipe for a complicated defense campaign, with the newcomers struggling to replicate the great exploits achieved by their missing predecessors four years ago.

Yet, this might just be a blessing in disguise for L’Equipe Tricolore.

As we all know, the World Cup history is filled with bizarre tales and shocking statistics.

So what do France, Italy, Spain and Germany all have in common? These nations are the last four European teams to lift the legendary golden trophy.

Now here’s the stunning fact: Their defense campaigns were doomed all the same, with each of them exiting the tournament in the group stage.

From France’s infamous defeat at the hands of Senegal in 2002, to Germany’s howler against South Korea in 2018 and everything in between; each of them was considered a major upset and rightfully so.

But perhaps there’s a pseudo-logical explanation for this irrational outcome. As we all know, most coaches develop a great affection towards a group that brought them great success – a lethal affection that often results in their demise.

They say that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. But this oversimplified phrase hardly bodes well when it comes to international football.

While having a selection of world champions among your ranks is surely an advantage, the four great nations mentioned above committed the same fatal sin. They sat on their laurels and mostly relied on the World Cup winning group.

The problem? These proven winners had became four years older and possibly less enthusiastic.

In France’s case, they still have top stars like Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembelé who undoubtedly deserve their spots. But the injury crisis has forced Deschamps to make involuntary changes, introducing the likes of Adrien Rabiot, Aurelien Tchouameni and Theo Hernandez to the fold.

Compulsory may have been, but these tweaks have immediately paid dividends, with the new introductions proven to be decisive in the French team’s first appearance in Qatar.

Therefore, Deschamps may have inadvertently found the perfect recipe which should be adopted by all defending champions – a combination between world champions with massive experience under the belt, and hungry up-and-comers aiming for their maiden international medal.

With a win over Denmark, France would break the European curse which they had ironically started themselves before Italy, Spain and Germany followed suit. They would be the first defending champions from the Old Continent to reach the knockout stages since 1994.

But for Deschamps and his men, the objective is FAR larger and the spell they’re aiming to shatter is significantly older, dating back to the golden age of Pelé who led Brazil towards back-to-back triumphs – a feat which hasn’t been replicated during the last six decades.

So will the revitalized rooster overcome his wounds and crow for a third time?

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