Laurent Blanc has named his provisional French squad for his first major tournament as France’s head coach. He has included the uncapped defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and out of form midfielders, Yoann Gourcuff and Alou Diarra in his provisional 26 man party.
Yanga-Mbiwa has jumped to prominence with his impressive performances is helping Montpellier to the French League title this season. He joins the French side at the expense of Mamadou Sakho, who has lost his place at PSG due to poor form under their new manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Blanc was highly complementary of Yanga Mbiwa “He’s a very good defender, very tough in his man marking. He makes a few mistakes of youth but he’s got a great potential. He’s had a great season with his club,” was his summary of the youngster.
France will face off against the likes of Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and England’s Theo Walcott in Group D of Euro 2012.
Diarra and Gourcuff have had relatively poor seasons with Marseilles and Lyon respectively, but Blanc has decided to stick with them in spite of their poor form. Diarra has pipped Rio Mavuba whilst Gourcuff has benefited from injury to Abou Diaby and the absence of Lassana Diara.
Gourcuff has only scored two goals and provided three assists with Lyon this season but Blanc is prepared to gamble on him based on his international record. “His club record can’t be defended, when playing with his club, he didn’t play well. But with the France team, his record is not that bad.” His season has been effected greatly by an ongoing ankle injury, but Blanc is hopeful that the midfielder can stay fit and find some form in Poland and Ukraine.
France will be missing Younus Kaboul, Eric Abidal and Bacary Sagna for the tournament, and Loic Remy is touch and go as to whether he will make it too. France face a tough ask in their group, playing England, Ukraine and Sweden and if they are to get through and mount a challenge for the title Blanc’s gambles will have to pay off, and fast.