Les Bleus will seal their qualification if they beat Kazakhstan at the Parc des Princes on Saturday evening, or if they draw and the game between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Finland also finishes level. We look at France’s Ligue 1 stars (all stats correct as of November 12 2021)…
KYLIAN MBAPPE (22, forward, Paris Saint-Germain, 51 caps, 19 goals)
A World Cup winner at the age of 19, Mbappé is key to France’s hopes of making it back-to-back World Cup victories. Mbappé netted in the 2018 final, one of four goals he scored in a tournament display that made the world sit up and take notice of the extravagantly talented teenager. The forward is vital to France, as underlined by his winner against Spain in last month’s UEFA Nations League final in Milan.
Mbappé is hungry to win the World Cup again, even if he said recently when quizzed about his Paris 2024 Olympic ambitions: “What would be bigger, a gold medal at the Olympics or the World Cup? I’d say Olympic champion because I ‘ ve already been a world champion. You fight to win every trophy available. “
PRESNEL KIMPEMBE (26, defender, Paris Saint-Germain, 25 caps, 0 goals)
Currently injured, the powerful defender made one appearance at the 2018 World Cup, starting against Denmark in a 0-0 draw in the group stage. Comfortable alongside Raphaël Varane in a back four or as part of a three-man defense, Kimpembe started all of France’s games at UEFA EURO 2020 and performed strongly when recalled to the starting line-up for the UEFA Nations League final.
LEO DUBOIS (27, defender, Olympique Lyonnais, 12 caps, 0 goals)
Unused at UEFA EURO 2020, the OL full-back has a profile well suited to France’s recently adopted 3-4-1-2 system. An excellent crosser of the ball, Dubois is more attack-minded than Benjamin Pavard of Bayern Munich, the usual starter on the right. A cheeky nutmeg of Mikel Merino after stepping off the bench against Spain in the UEFA Nations League final made Dubois a video clip star. He’ll be hoping for more game time to show coach Didier Deschamps what he is truly capable of.
MATTEO GUENDOUZI (22, midfielder, Olympique de Marseille, 0 caps, 0 goals)
Having been capped 20 times at Under-21s level, the all-action midfielder has impressed at OM this season, on loan from Arsenal. Now a regular member of the senior set-up, Guendouzi may earn his first international minutes against Kazakhstan, or in Finland on Tuesday. He said: “I hope to get my first minutes. It’s a childhood dram and I’ve been working hard to fulfill it for a very long time. I’m here with the best midfielders in the world and I’m learning and progressing . “
AURELIEN TCHOUAMENI (21, midfielder, Monaco, 5 caps, 0 goals)
One of the breakout players of the season, Tchouaméni made his France debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina at the start of September and hasn’t looked back. With Paul Pogba injured, Tchouaméni could be in line for more minutes over the next few days, although N’Golo Kanté is back after being absent for the UEFA Nations League finals. Tchouaméni started the final against Spain with Adrien Rabiot missing after contracting coronavirus. Tchouaméni recently told The team: “When you see you are up to the level and you achieve one objective, you start to fix others.”
WISSAM BEN YEDDER (31, forward, Monaco, 15 caps, 2 goals)
Tchouaméni’s club captain knows his chances are limited given he’s got Mbappé, Benzema and Griezmann to compete with. An expert finisher, Ben Yedder’s challenge is to maintain the pressure on the star names and prove to Deschamps that he’s a reliable understudy.
With more than a year to go until the World Cup finals, there’s still the possibility of more Ligue 1 players making the final cut. Deschamps is monitoring Nice forward Amine Gouiri, while Rayan Cherki has made an outstanding start to his France Under-21s career; something he needs to translate into consistent club performances for OL before he can dream of making the step up.
>> Guendouzi: ‘Marseille fans have adopted me’