Saturday, July 22, 2017

What if France World Cup 1994

France in 1993 vs Bulgaria
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 Players Capped by Other National Teams
England 1974

France had a good side in 1994.  They consisted of the 1991 Ballon d'or winner Jean Pierre Papin, Eric Cantona, Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps. They were on the edge for a qualification to the 1994 World Cup Finals in the USA.  They only needed a draw with two games to spare.  On the first game, they lost to Israel 3-2 with the Israelis scoring a 90th minute goal.  That set up a showdown with Bulgaria on the last round of the World Cup Qualifiers.  France needed to draw to advance while Bulgaria needed to win.  Eric Cantona gave France an early lead on the 32nd minute, but Emil Kostadinov equalised for Bulgaria 5 minutes later.  On the 90th minute, David Ginola made a fatal mistake.  Instead of holding onto the ball to kill the clock, he sent a cross that led to a counter attack.  Bulgaria scored and qualified for the World Cup Finals.

At the actual World Cup Final in the USA, both Bulgaria and Sweden (the group winner of the World Cup Qualifiers) advanced all the way to the semifinal.  What if France qualified for the USA 1994? 

This is the 22 players I selected for France if they had qualified for USA 1994.

Team (only 22 players were allowed in 1994)
GK: Bernard Lama (PSG)
Lama left Guiana in 1981 to come to France to become a professional footballer.  He started with Lille, but also played in Brest and Metz.  In 1992, he joined PSG, where he found stardom.  He won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1996.  After a brief career with West Ham and Rennes, he retired.  Capped 44 times.  He was mainly a backup throughout his NT career.  He was on the team that won the WC in 1998.

GK: Bruno Martini ( Montpellier HSC)
Martini started playing professionally for AJ Auxerre. After a loan stint with AS Nancy, going on to appear in 322 Ligue 1 games while also helping it to a 1992–93 semifinal run in the UEFA Cup. Having gained more than 30 caps for France during nine years, Martini represented the nation in two European Championships: 1992 and 1996

GK: Fabien Barthez (Marseille)
He 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 Euro 2000 two years later. He is France's most capped player in the World Cup, with 17 appearances at the finals and shares the record for the most World Cup finals clean sheets with Peter Shilton. For domestic football, he played with Toulouse, Marseille, AS Monaco, Manchester United and Nantes.  He also won Champions League medal with Marseille in 1993.  

RB: Jocelyn Angloma (Marseille)
Angloma was a member of the great Marseille team of the early 1990's.  He won the European Cup in 1993.  He later played for Valencia and reached the Champions' League Final twice. He was a member of the French team at Euro 1992 and 1996.  In 2006, Angloma came out of retirement to play for his native région, Guadeloupe, and help them qualify for the 2007 Caribbean Nations Cup.
Jocelyn Angloma 
CB/DM: Paul Le Guen (PSG)
During his playing career, Le Guen played at Stade Brest for six years, Nantes Atlantique for two years, before leaving Brittany for Paris St. Germain where he played for seven years (with 478 appearances and a Cup Winners' Cup medal in 1996).  At international level he played 17 times for France due to injuries and he was part of the team which lost out on a trip to the World Cup in 1994.

CB: Laurent Blanc (Saint Étienne)
Laurent Blanc was nicknamed  "Le Président" for leadership skills.  He had over 90 caps. He was a key member of the French team that won the 1998 World Cup  at home and the 2000 European Championship in Belgium and Holland.  The team was known for its defence as well as its offence. For his club career, he played for Montpellier, Napoli, Barcelona, Marseille, Internazionale and Manchester United.
Laurent Blanc
CB: Alain Roche (PSG)
In his club career, Alain Roche played for Bordeaux, Marseille, Auxerre, Paris SG and Valencia. His most productive years were spent at Paris St Germaine, where he notably won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1996. For France, he played 25 times between 1988 and 1996. He went to European Championship of 1996 in England.

CB: Basile Boli (Marseille)
For club football, Basile Boli played for Auxerre, Marseille, Rangers (Scotland), Monaco and Urawa Reds (Japan).  He was a member of Bernard Tapie's Marseille that won the 1993 European Cup, the first ever for a French club. He scored the only goal at the Final against AC Milan.  He left the club in 1994.  For France, he won 45 caps.  He went to the European Championship of 1992 hosted by Sweden.  
Basile Boli 
LB:  Bixente Lizarazu (Bordeaux)
Bixente Lizarazu was the leftback for the all-conquering French team of 1998 and 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 played for Atletico Bilbao.  

LB: Éric Di Meco (Marseille)
Eric Di Meco played mostly for Olympique de Marseille, serving loans at AS Nancy and FC Martigues.  After Marseille's relegation at the end of the 1993–94 season, due to irregularities, Di Meco joined AS Monaco FC. He was capped 23 times for France between 1989 and 1996.  He went to European Championship of 1996.

CB/DM: Franck Sauzée (Atalanta)
Franck Sauzée played 39 times for the France between 1988 and 1993, captaining the team several times. He won the 1993 Champions League Final and three league titles with Marseille. Later in his career he earned great plaudits for his performances for Scottish club Hibernian, whom Sauzée subsequently managed for a short period.

CB/DM:  Marcel Desailly (AC Milan)
Marcel Desailly was considered to be one of the greatest defensive players during the 1990's.  He played 116 times for France, winning the WC in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.  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.

DM: Didier Deschamps (Marseille)
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. The prime of his career was spent with Marseille and Juventus, where he won a Champions League for both club.  He earned 103 caps between 1989 and 2000. He also played for Nantes, Chelsea and Valencia.
Didier Deschamps
CM: Emmanuel Petit (AS Monaco)
Petit had over 60 caps for France.  He represented France in two World Cups and two European Championships; he scored the third goal in France's 3–0 victory in the 1998 World Cup Final and was also a member of the French squad that won Euro 2000.  He played at club level for Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea as a midfielder.

CM: Vincent Guerin (PSG)
In a career stretching from 1984 to 2002, Vincent Guerin played for Stade Brestois 29, Matra Racing, Montpellier Hérault, Paris Saint-Germain, Heart of Midlothian in Scotland and, finally, with Red Star 93. With PSG, he won the Cup Winners' Cup. He was capped 19 times for France.  He went to the 1996 European Championship in England.

LW: Pascal Vahirua  (AJ Auxerre)
Pascal Vahirua was born in Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia. He moved to France as a 16 years old.  In France, he spent most of his career with AJ Auxerre.  He also played for Coen. He was capped 22 times for France between 1991 and 1994.   He was the first Polynesian ever to play for France. He was a member of the French team at the European Championship in 1992.

LW: David Ginola (PSG)
For the national team, Ginola was blamed for the goal against Bulgaria that eliminated France for the 1994 WC qualification.  He moved to England shortly afterward.  Ginola became a big star at the English Preimer League in the late 1990's.  In England, he played for Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspurs, Aston Villa and Everton.  he won both PFA and FWA Player of the Year in 1998-1999. 

AM: Reynald Pedros (Nantes)
Reynald Pedros was part of the magic trio of FC Nantes with Patrice Loko and Nicolas Ouédec in the 1990's. He won the Ligue 1 title with Nantes in 1995. The following year he reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. He also played for many clubs, including Mariselle, Nastia, Napoli, Parma, Lyon, etc. He was capped 25 times.  His reputation suffered after the European Championship in 1996, where he missed a penalty against the Czech Republic.
Reynald Pedros 
AM: Youri Djorkaeff (AS Monaco)
Youri Djorkaeff is the son of French international Jean Djorkaeff. He played for many clubs in Europe, including Monaco, PSG, Inter Milan, Kaiserslautern, etc.  He was an important part of the great French team that won the World Cup in 1998 and then European Championship in 2000. He is considered one of the best French offensive players in that era.

FW: Eric Cantona (Manchester United)
Before joining Leeds United in 1992, Eric Cantona was known as the bad boy of French football.  He played for many French clubs before 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 World Cup in 1994. 
Eric Cantona
ST: Patrice Loko (Nantes)
Once projected to be a star player in France before mental issue got to him. He began his career at Nantes and then moved on to Paris Saint-Germain, where he was part of the team that won the 1996 Cup Winners' Cup.  From there he went on to play for Montpellier, Lyon, Troyes, FC Lorient and Ajaccio. He also made appearances for France, including scoring at Euro 1996 against Bulgaria.

ST:  Jean Pierre Papin (AC Milan)
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
Players Pool
Xavier Gravelaine, Bernard Casoni, Jean-Philippe Durand, Laurent Fournier, Jean-Luc Dogon, Jérôme Gnako, Jean-Luc Sassus, Nicolas Ouédec.

Squad Explanation
-- Two years earlier, France arrived at the European Championship in 1992 with a three-year unbeaten run.  In Sweden, they were eliminated in the group stage after 2 draws and a defeat.  The code of that team was also on this 1994 team. This generation is often critizied for not meeting expectations.
-- Gérard Houllier was their manager from 1992 to 1993. He resigned after their failure to qualify for the World Cup Finals. 
-- France played in the Kirin Cup on May, 1994 under new manager Aime Jacquet.  France used a similar lineup as the ill-fated game against Bulgaria.  Eric Cantona, Laurent Blanc, Jean-Pierre Papin, David Ginola, Emmanuel Petit, Reynald Pedros and Didiner Deschamps played in the game against Bulgaria.  
-- In real life, Fabian Barthez made his national team debut in June, 1994 under new manager Aime Jacquet. Houllier was not the manager by then. I do not know if Houllier would give Barthez his debut if France qualified and he remained the manager.  But Barthez is probably the best third keeper available.  So I took him to the USA.  He is the only player on this team who made his national team debut after the ill-fated World Cup Qualifiers. 
-- Lilian Thuram, Christian Karembeu, Zinedine Zidane and Christophe Dugarry all made their debut in 1994 after the World Cup Qualifying disaster.  If France qualified for USA 1994, France would have kept the qualifying team intact.  These players probably would have delayed their debut.   So I decided not to take them.
-- Later in their careers, Reynard Pedros would lose out to Zinedine Zidane.  For USA 1994, I chose Pedros over Zidane.  Reynald Pedros were a part of the World Cup Qualifiers while Zidane had not played for France.  I tried to be as realistic as possible.
-- Mustapha Hadji who who was eligible for France chose to play for Morocco in 1993 before France was eliminated by Bulgaria in the World Cup Qualifiers.  He did not know that France won't be going to the 1994 World Cup Finals when he earned his first cap for Morocco.  His decision had not nothing to do with France's elimination from the World Cup Finals.
-- Both Corentin Martins and Youri Djorkaeff played for France in 1993. Martins actually played more than Djorkaeff, but Djorkaeff finished as the 2nd top scorer in Ligue 1 that season.  So I took Djorkaeff over Martins.
-- If France qualified for the World Cup Finals, David Ginola would not have committed the mistake that led to the elimination. So in the alternative world, he would not become the scapegoat. Besides, he continued to play for France after the game against Bulgaria. He was Ligue 1 Player of the Year for the 1993-1994 season. The same applied to Franck Sauzée and Basile Boli, who played their last international match against Bulgaria in real life. All three were selected for my imaginary team.
-- Marseille won the Champion League/League Double for the 1992-1993 season.  In the 1993-1994 season, Marseille were not allowed to enter the Champions' league due their involvement in a match-fixing scandal in the season prior. However, they were allowed to play in the French league, but demoted to Division 2 at the end of that season.  From Marseille, I took 5 players to the World Cup Finals.  They are Fabien Barthez, Jocelyn Angloma, Eric Di Meco, Basile Boli and Didiner Deschamps.  Except Barthez, the other four players left the club in the summer of 1994. 
-- Only 8 players selected here also went to the 1998 World Cup Finals. Three of the bigger names on this team missed out on the 1998 World Cup. Eric Cantona did not play for France after 1995.  He retired from playing football in 1997. Jean Pierre Papin's prime had passed by 1998,  David Ginola, however, was only 31 years old at the time of the 1998 World Cup Finals.  He won both PFA and FWA Player of the Year in 1999.  If France qualified for USA 1994, Ginola might have been selected for the 1998 team.  
-- France also did not qualify for the 1990 World Cup Finals.  Jean-Pierre Papin was the only player with World Cup experience.
-- Jean-Pierre Papin played for AC Milan between 1992 and 1994, but he never established as a starter at the club.  He suffered from the three-foreigner rule at the time that made him compete with other foreign players.  He played in 1993 the Champions' League Final for AC Milan, but he did not play the following season in the Final against Barcelona. 
-- Eric Cantona was the PFA Player of the Year in England that season.  He scored 25 goals, which was his highest output during his career with Manchester United.

Formation
I do not know if Gérard Houllier would use this formation.





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