Didier Deschamps has explained his decision to recall Olivier Giroud and overlook Andre-Pierre Gignac, Alexandre Lacazette and Anthony Martial for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifier against Sweden. The Arsenal forward missed out on the last France squad, but since returning from injury has scored three goals in his last two appearances for his club.
“It’s logical that he’s back,” said Deschamps of the man who led the Bleus line in the UEFA EURO 2016 final. “He was injured for a month, he could not play. He had a somewhat difficult time getting back in, but he played in the cup and the Champions League. As soon as he recovered and was back to full fitness, it was logical that this would be the decision.”
Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann, who formed the spearhead for France in their last two Russia 2018 qualifiers, along with Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Nabil Fekir, were the other forwards Deschamps called up.
Lacazette was left out because the 1998 World Cup-winning captain believes he is of the same ilk as Gameiro. “I can’t take too many of the same type of player,” said Deschamps, who said Gignac “is not in his best form”.
The 48-year-old stressed that Martial “needs to get back to his best”. The costliest teenager in history has been a bit-part player for Manchester United this season, and Deschamps recently remarked that “Jose Mourinho and I expect more from Martial.”
France top Group A in European qualifying, above Sweden on goal difference, with the Netherlands three points back in third. The French host the Swedes on 11 November, before facing Côte d'Ivoire in a friendly four days later.
USA 1994 was the last World Cup Les Bleus missed out on.