France’s Ribery to miss out on World Cup
Disappointed Deschamps concedes injured winger’s absence weakens chances
Franck Ribery (left) has enjoyed considerabley better form in the national team under manager Didier Deschamps. Photograph: Reuters
Ribery had been sidelined for several weeks with the injury, playing no part in recent friendlies against Norway and Paraguay, but so important was his potential contribution to France’s campaign that Deschamps had been prepared to wait until the last minute for the Bayern Munich forward to recover. But the manager was forced to accept that the 31-year-old had no chance of making an impact after the player broke down during training yesterday.
“He had to come to a complete stop during sprint exercises after feeling serious pain,” said Deschamps. “Everything led us to conclude that it is impossible for him to resume training within a few weeks, let alone play a match.”
After helping France to the final in 2006, Ribery marked the last World Cup only by his prominent role in France’s spectacular flop and he also disappointed at the last two European Championships. But he has flourished under Deschamps, contributing six goals and 12 assists in 12 appearances as, at last, he consistently produced for his country the devastating wing play displayed for Bayern.
High hopesAlthough his club form was hampered by injuries this season, including surgery on his buttocks in January, hopes were high that a fully fit and newly focused Ribery would be able to recapture the magic that made him integral to Bayern’s clean sweep of trophies in 2012-13. This form earned him a nomination for the Ballon d’Or, in which he finished third behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Deschamps conceded that Ribery’s absence weakens French chances. “We have to keep our ambitions, though obviously we perform better with a Ribery that is 100 per cent fit,” said the manager. Twitter users will no doubt monitor the account of Samir Nasri’s girlfriend following Deschamps’ decision not to summon the Manchester City midfielder as a replacement for Ribery.
Anara Atanes’s furious online denunciation of Deschamps after Nasri’s omission from the original squad led the manager to threaten legal action against her and hardly improved the player’s chance of being called up once Ribery was ruled out.
However, Deschamps apparently thinks Nasri has a potentially disruptive influence and instead turned to Cabella. With only one cap to his name, he does not have Nasri’s experience or honours but has enjoyed a good season with Montpellier, scoring 14 in 41 matches.
Cabella is unlikely to slot straight into Ribery’s wide spot in the attacking 4-3-3 trident that Deschamps likes to deploy.
The favourites to fill the berths either side of the centre forward are Mathieu Valbuena and Antoine Griezmann. Valbuena endured a difficult season with his club but has rarely let his country down in 33 appearances and took his opportunity to shine in the recent friendlies, producing fine creative performances.
France play a final warm-up match against Jamaica tomorrow before heading to Brazil, where they are in Group E with Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador. Guardian Service