France coach Didier Deschamps yesterday called up highly rated Tiemoue Bakayoko for the first time, a week after the young Monaco midfielder played a major part in dumping Manchester City out of Europe.
The 22-year-old Bakayoko, who has been strongly linked with a move to Chelsea and Manchester United, replaces United’s Paul Pogba for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg and the friendly with Spain after the world’s most expensive footballer suffered a hamstring problem. He is the fifth Monaco player in the current France outfit alongside Benjamin Mendy, Thomas Lemar, Djibril Sidibe and the teenage forward Kylian Mbappe, another who is being chased by Europe’s elite. Deschamps also called up Lyon right-back Christophe Jallet in place of the injured Bacary Sagna.
Manchester City’s Sagna, 34, had joined the France team at their training camp outside Paris but was diagnosed with a left adductor injury. The 33-year-old Jallet has 11 caps for France, most recently against the Netherlands in March 2016.
France play lowly Luxembourg, ranked 135th in the world by FIFA, on Saturday followed by a friendly against Spain the following Tuesday.
France lead their qualifying Group A for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with 10 points, ahead of the Netherlands and Sweden (seven), Bulgaria (six), Belarus (two) and Luxembourg (one).
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain), Benoit Costil (Rennes), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/ENG)
Defenders: Presnel Kimpembe (Paris SG), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal/ENG), Layvin Kurzawa (Paris SG), Benjamin Mendy (Monaco), Adil Rami (Seville/ESP), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (FC Barcelona/ESP), Christophe Jallet (Lyon)
Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/ENG), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Blaise Matuidi (Paris SG), Tiemoue Bakayoko (Monaco), Adrien Rabiot (Paris SG), Corentin Tolisso (Lyon)
Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Dortmund/GER), Kevin Gameiro (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal/ENG), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Kylian Mbappe (Monaco), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)
Suarez suspension an advantage for Brazil: Casemiro
Brazil visit Uruguay on World Cup duty this week, with midfielder Casemiro suggesting the absence of Luis Suarez will give the five-times champions an advantage in the top-of-the-table clash in Montevideo. The Barcelona striker has scored 31 goals in 41 appearances for his club this season but will miss the Brazil game after picking up a yellow card in Uruguay’s last World Cup qualifier, a 3-1 defeat by Chile. It was only his second yellow in eight games but came at an opportune time for Brazil, Casemiro said.
“We can’t deny it, of course it’s better playing Uruguay without Suarez,” the Real Madrid player said. “Suarez is a great player.”
The striker missed the first four games of the South American qualifiers as part of a nine-game international ban imposed after biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in the 2014 World Cup. Uruguay won three of their first four qualifiers without him and have continued their run of good form to sit second in the 10-team South American qualifying group with 23 points from 12 games. Brazil, who have won their last six qualifiers under new manager Tite, top the table with 27 points and believe they are just a point or two away from securing one of the four automatic qualification places for Russia 2018. After the Uruguay game, Brazil face Paraguay in Sao Paulo five days later.
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