Theo Hernandez, brother of Lucas, is the only remaining left back on Didier Deschamps’ roster.
France’s 4-1 victory over Australia in their opening group stage match on Tuesday did not come without sacrifice. Les Bleus left back The French Football Federation says that Lucas Hernandez left the game after only 13 minutes with a torn ACL in his right knee. This happened when the Socceroos were scoring.
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Hernandez was replaced by his younger brother Theo Hernandez, who recorded an assist in the game, but Didier Deschamps’ squad now consists of only one left back.
When Karim Benzema got hurt and couldn’t play in this World Cup, Didier Deschamps decided not to put anyone else in his place. This left him with only 24 players for France’s remaining games. Presnal Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku were also taken off France’s initial roster for the World Cup. N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, and others were also ruled unfit to play.
If Hernandez cannot play, someone will have to play out of position at left back, as Benjamin Pavard and Jules Kounde are the only defenders with experience on the right flank. If France’s attack, led by Oliver Giroud and Kylian Mbappe, remains fluid during the World Cup, they may not need to defend as much. However, as the tournament progresses, the accumulation of yellow cards and lack of defensive depth will be something to monitor.
Recent history is not on France’s side, as four of the last five World Cup champions have been eliminated in the group stage. It is a trend that began in 2002 after Les Bleus won their first World Cup in 1998, and it is a taboo that they could essentially break in Qatar.