France’s Euro 2016 attack and why they need Karim Benzema

Going into the Euro 2016 tournament in France this summer, the hosts look to be in an enviable position to potentially claim momentous glory on home soil.

A squad loaded with young talent has Les Bleus as favourites with many, with impressive friendly performances of late also leading expectations to rise.

However, Didier Deschamps has a tougher job than most international coaches in selecting a squad for the tournament, with getting the right personnel a key part in France’s chances of success.

At previous international competitions divides internally have led to combustion on the pitch, with temperamental characters doubling up as rotten apples and spoiling the collective good.

Less than three months out from the competition beginning and Deschamps has a tough call to make in regards to striker Karim Benzema.

The Real Madrid forward has been embroiled in a sex-tape scandal with international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, which has subsequently seen him suspended by the French Football Federation.

Benzema remained on the outskirts for recent international friendlies and it now remains to be seen whether the experienced centre forward will be recalled to the home team’s contingent.

Here are the pros and cons, should the FFF allow it, of Benzema being recalled to the France squad for Euro 2016.

PROS

France’s squad is set to have a youthful look to it, especially in attack, with some prodigious talents charged with leading their nation to glory.

Deschamps has no shortage of options in attack, with impressive starlets such as Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and Kingsley Coman seemingly set to play a significant role.

However, for the trainer’s 4-3-3 formation to work efficiently, a centre forward that can hold the ball up is required.

Olivier Giroud provides a solid option, while Andre-Pierre Gignac is another that could fit the mould.

However, France’s opposition would surely be more concerned about facing the competition hosts should Benzema lead the line rather than one of the other two options.

Martial has shown at Manchester United this season that he is a fully capable number nine, while deploying someone like Griezmann as the furthest man forward, allowing him to go as he pleases, could hurt opponents.

That said, in my opinion having Benzema in the starting XI gives France more balance, and with Griezmann and Martial playing off him it would be a menacing front three at Deschamps’ disposal.

CONS

Karim BenzemaAs competition hosts, France have been starved of the competitive action that a qualifying process allows.

Subsequently, more emphasis has been placed on the country’s international friendlies, where form and performances have fitted the bill.

France have won seven of their last eight fixtures, including victories over Germany, Portugal and Netherlands, and are gathering a head of steam before the tournament.

As such, bringing any volatile entities into Deschamps’ squad will be something that the coach will look to avoid, and Benzema’s return could well disrupt the current harmony in the contingent.

France have had these concerns in the past and the last thing they want is another internal row that impacts upon the team’s performances on the pitch.

VERDICT

Deschamps has both an enviable and unenviable job ahead of this summer’s tournament.

With a weight of expectation upon his and the team’s shoulders, the former Juventus trainer will be charged with managing a number of big personalities and making it all gel.

However, he has some fantastic players at his disposal that other national coaches will look at with envy, including Benzema, and as such France will take some stopping.

It is my assertion that the hosts are a better and more rounded side with the Real Madrid man in the starting XI and as such don’t be surprised to see him leading the line for the hosts in the competition opener on June 10.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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