Southampton's Schneiderlin and Cabella of Montpellier called in to take place of injured duo
2014 World Cup round-up: France’s Ribery and Grenier to miss trip to Brazil through injury
France will be without both Franck Ribery and Clement Grenier for the World Cup, with coach Didier Deschamps confirming earlier media reports in France.
Bayern Munich winger Ribery, Les Bleus’ star man and a player with 80 caps to his name, has been struggling with a lower back problem for several weeks.
Having followed an individual training programme, he was due to rejoin the full squad on Friday in a bid to prove his fitness.
But French newspaper L’Equipe reported from the national team’s camp at the Clairefontaine national academy that both Montpellier winger Remy Cabella and Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin had been called up from Deschamps’ reserve list.
That prompted speculation that Ribery and Lyon midfielder Grenier would miss out on the trip to Brazil, the latter having sat out Friday’s session while undergoing scans on a thigh problem.
Deschamps later confirmed Ribery and Grenier would not make the trip to the World Cup and would be replaced by Schneiderlin and Cabella.
The coach had already been forced into one change to his original squad, with injured Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda replaced by St Etienne’s Stephane Ruffier.
Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil’s coach, believes Argentina are their most likely opponents in the final, if the hosts advance to the championship match. He said he and his staff studied the tournament bracket and “from our analysis, the final we see happening is Brazil on one side and Argentina on the other”.
He said the rivals in the final would be a dream match-up. “It would be a South American final, with great players, a lot of quality,” he said. “First, I have to make sure my team is in the final.”
The eagerness to pin the nation’s World Cup hopes on one player irritates Roy Hodgson, the England coach, keenly aware that the focus suddenly has shifted from Wayne Rooney to Ross Barkley, the 20-year-old Everton midfielder.
Pundits are excited about his youthful energy and fearlessness, on show in his first international start for England when he accelerated through the Ecuador defence in the humidity of Miami before laying off the ball for Rickie Lambert to score in a 2-2 draw.
“There always seems to be an enormous obsession with one player,” Hodgson said at a press conference. “I’m not prepared to address your obsession with Ross Barkley.”
The manager later relented to additional questions and said of Barkley: “He’s rather hoping he can get in the starting XI and be the main man. He has wonderful pace and ball control.”
The form of playmaker Eden Hazard has sparked lively debate in his home country, where the former international Marc Degryse has called on Belgium coach Marc Wilmots to drop the Chelsea player.
“He has to work harder defensively,” Degryse said of Hazard. “It’s time for him to produce a good performance, on which he leaves his imprint. We’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
Wilmots dismissed the criticisms and said he expected Hazard to be in top form in a friendly with Tunisia tonight.
“He has my full support,” Wilmots said. “He needs matches to get into the rhythm. However, there can be no doubt about his ability. That said, if he plays badly, I will not hesitate to replace him.”
Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portugal forward, missed a friendly against Mexico on Friday night as he tries to recover from injuries to his left leg in time for the team’s World Cup opener against Germany on June 16.
The Ballon d’Or winner is dealing with a thigh injury and patellar tendinitis, according to Portugal’s football federation.
Pepe and Raul Meireles also were deemed unfit for the warm-up match against Mexico. Portugal has one more friendly before departing for Brazil, against Ireland on Tuesday.
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