RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil (AP) - France coach Didier Deschamps has freshened up his World Cup squad with some new faces as he keeps one eye on the future.
Young wingers Antoine Griezmann and Remy Cabella hope to get their chance to shine in France’s attack, while Morgan Schneiderlin offers some welcome cover in midfield.
Even if they don’t play much in Brazil, they’ll have picked up valuable experience ahead of the European Championship on home soil in 2016.
When winger Franck Ribery and midfielder Clement Grenier were ruled out of the World Cup at the last minute because of injuries, Cabella and Schneiderlin got an unexpected opening.
They were on the standby list and had almost no international experience, save for Cabella’s brief substitute appearance in the 4-0 win against Norway two weeks ago.
Griezmann was already in Deschamps’ 23-man squad, and has made a strong start to his international career, scoring three goals in three appearances, two of those as a substitute. Although the opposition was weak in last Sunday’s 8-0 rout of Jamaica, the way the Real Sociedad winger took his two chances was particularly impressive.
For the first, he controlled a loose ball in the penalty area, turned and coolly picked his spot. The second was even better, a classy backheel flick after making a front-post run.
Griezmann made his full debut against the Netherlands in March and had a quiet game, but one moment caught the eye and underlined his unselfish mentality.
Breaking into the penalty area, he had a chance to shoot from a tight angle. Instead, he paused and waited for striker Olivier Giroud to reach the penalty spot.
Even though his pass was slightly behind Giroud, the intention was clear.
With the World Cup squad announcement only two months away, Griezmann was on his debut and could have gone for glory in a bid to impress Deschamps. But he was more interested in setting up a teammate, and Giroud noticeably applauded the effort.
Deschamps, who has instilled a strong team ethic, doubtless appreciated it, too.
The 23-year-old Griezmann, who has excellent ball control and mobility, scored 16 league goals last season.
He had jeopardized his international future because of a past incident.
In October 2012, Griezmann was among a group of under-21 players who left their training camp and drove two hours to go to a Paris nightclub and back between two playoff games against Norway for the 2013 European Championship. France lost 5-3.