Changing of the guard leaves Mbappé's France vulnerable towards the Euro

PARIS.- Leadership was never a problem in France.

Les Bleus appeared at each tournament with a leader in each position: goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, defender Raphaël Varane, midfielder Paul Pogba and forward Antoine Griezmann.

They have been together in every major tournament since 2014, except for the 2022 World Cup, which Pogba missed due to a knee injury. Apart from being top-level players, the quartet exuded hierarchy in each of their areas on the court.

Griezmann is the last one left.

Lloris, the eternal captain, and Varane resigned from the national team. Pogba's career – scorer of a goal in the victory against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final – was derailed.

Pogba was banned for four years by Italy's anti-doping agency this year after testing positive for testosterone. Without Lloris, Varane and Pogba, coach Didier Deschamps lost a combined total of 329 international matches in one fell swoop.

At least he can continue to count on Griezmann in this European Championship.

The 33-year-old attacker won the award for best French player abroad, beating midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni (Real Madrid) and defender William Saliba (Arsenal).

Griezmann (Atlético de Madrid) has just completed his best scoring production at the club level since 2018, the year in which he scored in the 2018 World Cup final, along with Kylian Mbappé.

Mbappé, who will join Real Madrid next season after seven seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, remained the team's captain after Lloris retired with Les Bleus. For many, Griezmann is the natural leader.

New people have replaced Lloris, Varane and Pogba in the starting eleven, but not their authority. For now.

Scoring goals should not be a problem.

The skilled Griezmann, scorer of 44 goals with the national team, gels very well with Mbappé's devastating punch.

Mbappé has 47 goals for the national team, very close to the 51 scored by Thierry Henry. Olivier Giroud is the all-time scorer with 57 goals, but the 37-year-old attacker is not guaranteed a starting spot in what will be his last international tournament.

In addition, debutant Bradley Barcola will provide vertigo on the left wing.

Not conceding goals is what worries us. It will be the first time that Deschamps faces a competition without Lloris in goal. Mike Maignan (AC Milan) has remained as the starter, but he has a finger injury.

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Eduardo Camavinga and Tchouaméni, teammates from Real Madrid, are toned by a double of titles that was crowned with the conquest of the Champions League. Adrien Rabiot performed very well for a mediocre Juventus.

Deschamps surprised by mentioning the veteran midfielder N’Golo Kanté, even though he has not played for Les Bleus for two years and left Europe after accepting the offer from the Saudi club Al Ittihad.

“When you have a younger squad, it is important to have players that you know well and who have experience at the highest level,†Deschamps said. “He owns that aura and that counts.†.