Tuesday, October 14, 2014

France Greatest All-Time 23 member Team

World Cup 1998
This is my all-time team for France. If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
South France
Players born in the Overeseas Department and former French Colonies
French Black Players 
French Algerian
French Players Capped by Other National Teams
France at USA 1994

France is the founding member of both FIFA and UEFA.  They also organized the first European Championship. They have two very successful periods in history.  From 1982 to 1986, they won the European Championship in 1984 and reached the semifinals of both World Cup in 1982 and 1986.  Then, in 1998, "Les Bleus" won their first World Cup and followed by another European Championship in 2000.  France also had a great team in the1958 World Cup Finals.  They came third.  Just Fontaine scored 13 goals and Raymond Kopa won the Ballon d'Or that year.

France winning Euro 1984

GK:  Julien Darui
In 1999, Julien Darui was elected best French goalkeeper of the century by L'Équipe.  Born in Luxembourg, he was capped 25 times for France. He started his career at Olympique Charleville. He then played at Olympique Lille and Red Star Olympique, with whom he won the Coupe de France in 1942.  He later played with Lille OSC and CO Roubaix-Tourcoing, where he won the League title in 1947. He finished his career as a coach-player at CORT and then at SO Montpellier.

GK: Fabien Barthez
Fabien Barthez is France's most decorated goalkeeper.  He had 87 caps for "Les Bleus".   He won the World Cup in 1998 at home and then, the European Championship two years later. Barthez is France's most capped player in the FIFA World Cup, with 17 appearances at the finals.  For domestic football, he played with Toulouse, Marseille, AS Monaco, Manchester United and Nantes.  He also won Champions League medal with Marseille in 1993.  
Fabien Barthez
GK:  Pierre Chayrigues
The youngest ever keeper capped by France when he was first capped in 1911. He was part of the French squad at the 1924 Summer Olympics. He started with JAS Levallois at the age of thirteen. He joined the Red Star in 1911.  He was credited as the first French goalie to leave his line to stop the opponents.  It was reported that Tottenham Hotspur tried to sign him  in 1913, but he stayed with Red Stars. 

RB/LB:  Manuel Amoros
Amoros is widely considered to be France's greatest fullback.  He was a part of the Golden Generation of the 1980's.  He played 82 times for France.  He played in the European Championships Finals of 1984 and 1992, winning the 1984 version.  He also played in the World Cup Finals in 1982 and 1986.  He won the Champions League with Marseille in 1993, but also losing the one in 1991. He also played for Monaco and Lyons.

RB/CB:  Lilian Thuram
Lilian Thuram is France's most capped player.  He was known for his strength, pace and stamina.  He played at the top flight in France, Italy and Spain for over 15 seasons, including ten in the Serie A with both Parma and Juventus. With France, Thuram won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, and was in the runner-up squad for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.  He scored two goals vs Croatia in the semifinal of the World Cup in 1998. 
Thuram vs Croatia
CB:  Marius Tresor
Marius Tresor was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers.  He had 65 caps.  He was the French captain before Michele Platini's arrival. He went to the World Cup Finals in 1978 and 1982.  In 1982, he scored one of the extra time goal against West Germany at the semifinal. He also played for Olympique de Marseille and Girondins de Bordeaux.

CB:  Robert Jonquet
Jonquet played with the legendary Stade de Reims in the 1950's with Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine.  He reached the final of the European Cup twice, but lost to Real madrid on both occasions. He had 58 caps.  He was also the captain of the French national team during that era, and went to the 1954 and 1958 World Cup Finals. In a friendly match against England in 1951, he earned the nickname  "The Hero of Highbury".

CB/DM:  Marcel Desailly
Marcel Desailly was considered to be one of the greatest defensive players during the 1990's.  At the international level, he played 116 times for France, winning the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship two years later in 2000.  At the club level, he was the first player to win the European Cup in consecutive seasons with different clubs, when he won it with Marseille in 1993 and AC Milan the following year. He also played for Nantes and Chelsea, among others.
Marcel Desailly

CB/LB:  Maxime Bossis
Maxime Bossis was a key player during France's Golden Generation of the 1980's.  He was named Footballer of the Year by France Football in 1979 and 1981.  He won the European Championship in 1984.  He went to the World Cup in both 1978, 1982 and 1986.  From 1985 to 1992, he held the French record of caps,  He was a star of the great Nantes team of the 1980's. He played briefly for RC Paris.

LB: Bixente Lizarazu
Bixente Lizarazu was the leftback for the all-conquering French team of 1990's and early 2000's.  He won the World Cup in 1998 and European Championship in 2000. He had 97 caps. Lizarazu began his professional career with Girondins de Bordeaux, but better known for playing with Bayern Munich for 9 seasons. He won the Champions' League in 2001. He is a Basque and he also played for Atletico Bilbao. 

DM:  Didier Deschamps
Didier Deschamps was only the second player in history to captain his team to lift the three big trophies: the Champions League trophy, the World Cup trophy and the European Championship trophy.  He started his career with Nantes in 1985. The prime of his career was spent with Marseille (1989 to 1994) and Juventus (1994 to 1999), where he won a Champions League for both club.  He earned 103 caps between 1989 and 2000, and was the captain of 1998 World Cup winning team for France.
Didier Deschamps
CM: Jean Tigana
Tigana played 52 times for France. He was a member of the great French side of the 1980's.  He won the Euro 1984 playing in the famous "Magic Square". He also went to the 1982 and 1986 Wolrd Cup Finals. He played with Bordeaux for eight years, winning three league titles and three French Cups.  He also spent time with Toulon, Lyon and Marseille.

CM: Alain Giresse
Alain Giresse was the French footballer of the year in 1982, 1983 and 1987. He was part of the "Magic Square" alongside Michel Platini, Luis Fernández and Jean Tigana that won the European Cup in 1984.  He also played in the WC finals in 1982 and 1986.  For his club career, he played with Tigana at Bordeaux, a side that dominated French football in that period. He also played with Mariselle.

CM: Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira started his career with Cannes. He is an Arsenal all-time great.  He won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.  In England. he was famous for his rivalry with Roy Keane.  He later played with Juventus, Inter Milan and Manchester City. With "Les Bleus", he won the WC in 1998 and European Championship in 2000.  He earned 107 caps.

AM: Michel Platini
Michel Platini is one of the greatest footballers of all time.  He played 72 times for France, He scored 9 of France's 14 goals as they won the European Chamionship in 1984 at home.  It was probably the greatest individual performance in a tournament.  He won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1983, 1984 and 1985.  With Juventus, he won the European Cup in 1985, the first ever for the club. He started with Nancy and was a member of the famous team with AS Saint-Etienne.
Michel Platini at Euro 1984
AM: Zinedine Zidane
Zidane was named the best European footballer of the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll, and has been described as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.  He won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times.  He led France to victory at  the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.  With Real Madrid, he also won the Champions League in 2002, where he scored one of the greatest goals in history at the Final.
Zinedine Zidane
AM/RW: Raymond Kopa 
Kopa was considered to be "Les Bleus"'s greatest player before the emerge of Michel Platini. In 1970, he became the first football player to receive the Légion d'honneur. He helped France to finish third at the WC Finals in 1958. He won the the European Footballer of the Year in 1958 and won three European Cups with Real Madrid in the 1950's.  He also played with Stade de Reims before joining the legendary Real Madrid team of the 1950's. He won the 1953 Latin Cup with Reims.  His full name was Raymond Kopaszewsk.  
Raymond Kopa 

RW/LW: Franck Ribery
Franck Ribery is one of the best French players of his generation.  Individually, Ribéry is a three-time winner of the French Player of the Year award and has also won the German Footballer of the Year becoming the first player to hold both honours.  At the club level, he won the Champions' League in 2013 with Bayern Munich. He played in two World Cup Finals and helping France to a 2nd place in 2006.

RW/LW:  Robert Pires
Pires played for Metz, Marseilles, Villarreal and Aston Villa, but was better remembered as a part of the "French Connection" at Arsenal.  With Arsenal, he won three FA Cups and two Premier League titles including the club's unbeaten season of 2003–04.  He played there from 2000 to 2006.  For France, he was a part of the generation that won the World Cup in 1998 and European Championship in 2000.  He was capped 79 times.

FW:  Theirry Henry
Thierry Henry is the all-time leading scorer for both Arsenal and France.  He was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, and the FWA Footballer of the Year three times. He started with AS Monaco in 1994. The, he spent 8 seasons with Arsenal, where he enjoyed the peak of his career. He also played for Juventus, Barcelona and NY Red Bulls. He earned 123 caps and was a part of France's Golden Team form 1998 to 2002.
Thierry Henry
FW: Eric Cantona 
Before joining Leeds United in 1992, Cantona was known as the bad boy of French football.  He moved to England to restart his career.  In England, he became a huge star.  He won the league title with Leeds United and moved to Manchester United.  At Manchester United, he became one of their best ever players. For the national team, he was a part of the ill-fated national team that failed to qualify for the WC in 1994. His national team career was short-lived.

ST:  Just Fontaine
Fontaine was born in French Morocco.  He is the record holder for most goals scored in a single edition of the World Cup.  He scored 13 goals in 6 matches in the 1958 WC Finals in Sweden.  He won 21 caps scoring 30 goals. He started with RSM Casablanca and Nice before starring for Stade de Reims of the 1950's. With Reims, he played with Raymond Kopa and was considered one of the greatest ever French club side.

ST:  Jean Pierre Papin
Jean Pierre Papin is the Ballon d'Or winner in 1991. He was a member of the great Olympique de Marseille team of the 1990's that won four Lique in a row, but left the season before they lifted their first ever European Cup.  He later played for AC Milan, FC Bayern Munich, Bordeaux, Guingamp, JS Saint-Pierroise and US Cap-Ferret. Papin also played 54 times for the French national team. He went to the World Cup Finals in 1986 and the European Championship in 1992.  
Jean Pierre Papin

Honorable Mention
Larbi Benbarek, Roger Marche, Laurent Blanc, Patrick Battiston, Luis Fernandez, Claude Makelele, Youri Djorkaeff, Eric Cantona, Patrice Evra, Hugo Lloris, Joel Bats, Bernard Lama, Dominique Rocheteau, Roger Piantoni, David Trezeguet, Bernard Bosquier, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Raphaël Varane, Patrick Battiston, Jean Vincent, Basile Boli.

Squad Explanation
-- Raymond Kopa, Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini are the three greatest ever French players.  Manuel Amoros, Marcel Desailly and  Lillian Thuram are automatic selections.
-- The greatest period of French football was the period between 1998 and 2000, where France won the 1998 World Cup followed by the Euro 2000.
-- Eric Cantona did not show much respect toward Didier Deschamps.  However, he was the second player in history to captain his team to lift the three big trophies, namely the Champions League trophy, the World Cup trophy and the European Championship trophy.  Deschamps might not be on my automatic selections, but it is hard to ignore his achievements.
-- Fabien Barthez is France's most decorated keeper, but he had been known for his carelessness.  Hugo Lloris might have been a better choice.  At this moment, I still selected Barthez over him because of the trophies Barthez won for France. Most people also put Joe Bats and Bernard Lama ahead of Lloris.
-- Maxime Bossis? He was the most underrated French defender.  If you looked carefully at the 1986 World Cup Finals, he was easily the best defender even ahead of the more famous Manuel Amoros.  -- Lillian Thuram, Bixente Lizarazu and Manuel Amoros are two of the greatest French fullbacks.
-- Larbi Benbarek and Youri Djorkaeff were not selected because the team already had three playmakers(Kopa, Zidane and Platini).  Instead, I picked two wide players Ribery and Pires to give more width to the offense. 
-- Larbi Benbarek was one of the greatest attack midfielder ever played the game, but he did not make the squad.  That is sad.
-- Bernard Bosquier is a forgotten man in French football.  He did not play for a good French national side. He played in the late 1960's.
-- Alain Giresse was a borderline case.  I took him because he formed a partnership with Platini and Tigana. I want to keep the "Magic Square".  Luis Fernandez, the final member of the "Magic Square" missed out because of Marcel Desailly, Patrick Vieira and Didier Deschamps.  The defensive midfield position is very strong.
-- Somehow, people do not rate Deschamps very much.  He was selected because of his leadership.  Otherwise, I would have selected Luis Fernandez or Makelele. 
-- I only picked 7 defenders for the team.  Thuram and Bossis can cover both the centerback and fullback position.  So I dropped both Laurent Blanc and Roger Marche. Marche is one of the greatest left backs ever from Europe, but Amoros and Bossis could cover the leftback position. And I preferred Bixente Lizarazu. Instead, I added another attacker. The choice of this attacker was between Dominique Rocheteau, Roger Piantoni, David Trezeguet and Eric Cantona. 
-- Roger Piantoni's career overshadowed by both Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine.  David Trezeguet got overshadowed by Henry.
-- Eric Cantona dominated the Premiership, but he had done little for France. I thought he might have been overrated since the Premiership had not reached its potential when he was active player there.  Manchester United's European record with him was not that great. He also had issues with various French players.  Nevertheless, Eric Cantona's reputation still put him ahead of Piantoni and Trezeguet. So the last spot went to Eric Cantona.
-- Jean Pierre Papin is the Ballon d'Or winner in 1991.
-- After the World Cup in 2018, I added Hugo Lloris, Raphaël Varane, Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann to honourable mention.  Kylian Mbappé is a teenager, but he is also a World Cup winner.
-- Antoine Griezmann is not going to unseat Eric Cantona, Jean Pierre Papin, Just Fontaine and Thierry Henry.
-- I opened to include Paul Pogba.  At this moment, he cannot replace Alain Giresse or Jean Tigana.  His performance at Manchester United has failed to justify for his transfer fees.  That has counted against him, despite being the hero of the 2018 World Cup team.

Starting lineup
Formation I: 4-4-2
The formation is based upon the "Magic Square" formation of the 1980's.  Platini, Bossis, Tresor and Amoros played in this "Magic Square" formation in the same position during the 1980's.   For my team, Desailly starts in the midfield because he was a better defender than the other alternatives.  Thuram was moved to the central back because he should be a better partner for Tresor.  Blanc was too similar to Tresor. 

Formation II: 4-2-3-1
This should be the more realistic formation.  Raymond Kopa played on the right side for Real Madrid and Zidane also played on the left for them as well.   At the 2006 World Cup Finals, Henry was a lone striker so he knew this role well.  Tigana is not the automatic starter.  I am happy to switch him with Vieira, Giresse or even Deschamps.


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  2. This team is absolutely fantastic. Also the other teams are great

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