France above Australia The opening game of the group stage on Tuesday was not without suffering. Les Bleus Left-Back Lucas Hernandez left the game after just 13 minutes during the Socceroos scoring with what was later diagnosed via MRI as an ACL tear in his right knee. French Football Federation.
It’s an injury that will not only end his World Cup but see him relegated to Bayern Munich for the foreseeable future as the German club prepare for the Champions League play-offs in February.
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Hernandez was replaced by his younger brother Theo Hernandez, who scored an assist in the match, but now only one left-back remained in Didier Deschamps.
What’s worse for Deschamps when Karim Benzema fell due to an injury that prevented him from participating in this World Cup, he decided not to field a substitute, so he now only has 24 members left for France’s remaining matches. It was a World Cup with an absolute flood of injuries for France: Presnal Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku were also substituted from the original squad, while N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and others weren’t fit enough to be selected.
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At this stage, someone will need to play outside the left back position if Hernandez can’t play until Benjamin Pawar and Jules Kundet are the only defenders with experience on the right flank. If France manages to keep their free attack led by Oliver Giroud and Kylian Mbappe during the World Cup, they may not have to defend much. But as we get deeper into the tournament, the number of yellow cards can start to pile up, and the lack of defensive depth will be something to watch out for.
Recent history is not on France’s side, as four of the last five champions crashed in the group stage of the subsequent World Cup. This trend started in 2002 after Les Bleus won their first world title in 1998, and this time in Qatar they can break the taboo.