France injuries at World Cup 2022: Players missing from Qatar tournament

By | November 16, 2022

Injuries are affecting many sides ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, especially in recent weeks as the gruelling schedule takes its toll.

One side that have been ravaged by injury more than most is defending champions France.

Some of their biggest names have either been ruled out of the tournament all together, or are under serious injury clouds ahead of their first match against Australia.

The Sporting News breaks down who is missing out and who is in a race against time to be fit for Les Bleus.

MORE: World Cup injury tracker

France World Cup injuries

  • N’Golo Kante

Arguably the most important player to be ruled out for France is Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante.

He only played two games back in August before succumbing to a hamstring injury that has left him out for club and ultimately country as he underwent surgery in October that would sideline him for four months.

Despite being Chelsea’s most important midfielder, the 31-year-old has been blighted by injuries.

It is a huge loss for France as they lose one of the best workhorse midfielders in the world.

Getty Images

  • Paul Pogba

To add to France’s midfield woes, Paul Pogba has also been ruled out of the Qatar World Cup.

The 29-year-old has not played a minute for club side Juventus this season due to a knee injury, and whilst it was hoped he would be fit enough in time to make the squad, he picked up a thigh injury in recovery that means he will miss the tournament.

It’s a bitter blow for Pogba, whose club career has stalled after leaving Manchester United in ignominy last summer.

His performance at the last World Cup earned high praise, and he scored in the 4-2 win over Croatia in the final.

  • Mike Maignan

France’s goalkeeping ranks have also taken a hit, with AC Milan’s Mike Maignan failing to make the squad due to a calf injury sustained in October.

Having won the Scudetto for his club side last season, the 27-year-old’s stock has been on the rise and he is seen as the successor to current number one Hugo Lloris.

However, he won’t get the chance to potentially shine on a World Cup stage, and the pressure is on Lloris to remain consistent between the sticks.

Mike Maignan Milan 2021 2022
  • Presnel Kimpembe

France’s injury woes have continued even after the squad touched down in Qatar with PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe being ruled out after failing to shake off a recurring injury in time.

The defender, who was part of the 2018 World Cup winning squad, has only made 11 appearances in all competition’s for PSG, and was forced to accept that he will not be fit enough to take part in the World Cup.

  • Christopher Nkunku

And just days after Kimpembe’s injury, France lost another player originally in the squad, as RB Leipzig midfielder Christopher Nkunku picked up a knee injury in training.

The 25-year-old has been in fantastic form for his club, scoring 17 goals in 23 games, and was tipped to play a key role for Les Bleus.

He will not get the chance to help his country defend their crown though, and will be forced to watch the World Cup from home, in a devastating blow, as Eintracht Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani is called up to replace him.

Other France players under injury clouds

Multiple French players who are in the squad also have huge question marks surrounding their fitness and availability just a week out from the tournament.

Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema has missed 11 games for club and country so far this season, including the last four league games for Real Madrid as he battles muscular problems.

He also left the most recent training session 15 minutes before the end, though it is believed this was pre-planned and neither player nor coaching staff looked concerned.

Centre-backs Raphael Varane and Jules Kounde have also missed chunks of the season for Manchester United and Barcelona respectively, and it is unknown how much they will be able to contribute despite being named in the final squad.

How do these injuries impact France in Qatar? 

The injuries to Kante and Pogba have a massive impact on France’s midfield, as both are key players when fit.

They played key roles in France’s 2018 World Cup victory, and Kante played in a UEFA Nations league game in September before his injury.

It is believed that Didier Deschamps could opt for the exciting young pair of midfielders Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelian Tchouameni, who currently ply their trade at Real Madrid. While Adrien Rabiot of Juventus is also an option.

Maignan, Nkunku and Kimpembe had differing roles in France’s Nations League campaign. Maignan started three games before succumbing to injury at half-time against Austria.

West Ham’s Alphonse Areola and Rennes’ Steven Mandanda have been selected as the back-up keepers in his place.

Nkunku played in all six Nations League matches, two of which were starts, and picked up two assists in the process; he was set to play a key role for the side as a dynamic option off the bench. 

Whilst his replacement hasn’t been named, it is believed that Eintracht Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani will be drafted in has his replacement.

Kimpembe was selected as captain for two games of the Nations League and was on the bench for two others. He has been replaced in the side by uncapped Monaco defender Axel Diasi.

Kylian Mbappe of France

Getty Images

Potential starting line-up for France at 2022 World Cup

Coach Didier Descahmpes has experimented with various formations in the most recent Nations League campaign, shifting between three and four at the back, as well as occasionally playing Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema as strike partners up top.

Here is one way Les Bleus could line-up in their opening World Cup match:

GK: Hugo Lloris (C)

RB: Benjamin Pavard β€”  CB Ibrahima Konate β€”  CB: Dayot Upamecano β€”  LB: Theo Hernandez

CM: Aurelian Tchouameni β€”  CM: Adrien Rabiot β€”  CM: Eduardo Camavinga

RW: Ousmane Dembele β€”  ST: Karim Benzema β€”  LW: Kylian Mbappe