France have been rocked by the withdrawal of yet another player from their World Cup squad after defender Lucas Hernandez suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in the 4-1 victory over Australia.
The French Football Federation confirmed on Tuesday night that the Bayern Munich defender would play no further part in their World Cup defence, having been forced off just 13 minutes into their campaign.
The 26-year-old collapsed when attempting to block a cross by Mathew Leckie as he set up the opening goal for Craig Goodwin, and he was replaced by his brother Theo after being helped from the Al Janoub Stadium pitch.
A statement from the FFF on Twitter read: “Victim of a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the right knee, Lucas Hernandez must give up the World Cup. “The whole group wishes him the best possible recovery.”
It is the latest blow for France manager Didier Deschamps. Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema was forced to pull out on the eve of the tournament after failing to recover from a knee injury, while long-term absentees Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante were ruled out of the World Cup earlier this season.
Christopher Nkunku, Presnel Kimpembe and Mike Maignan have also been ruled out.
France World Cup 2022 squad
France announced their 25-man squad on November 9, and named five Premier League starters: William Saliba, who has contributed to Arsenal's dazzling form this season, Raphael Varane, Alphonse Areola, Ibrahima Konate, and captain Hugo Lloris.
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Rennes)
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris St-Germain), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamencano (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United)
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Jordan Veretout (Marseille)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kinglsey Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain), Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt), Marcus Thuram, (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Who are their key players?
Hugo Lloris has been one of France’s most crucial players since the turn of the century and will likely become the nation’s most-capped player in Qatar.
At the ripe old age of 35, the Spurs goalkeeper has captained his country since 2012 and his experience as well as his reliability will be vital for Les Bleus.
France’s preparations have been severely disrupted by the absence of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Christopher Nkunku, but the loss of Benzema represents the biggest set-back yet.
The 34-year-old was named Ballon d’Or last month after spearheading Madrid’s Champions League triumph earlier this year - his fifth at the club - as well as another La Liga title.
He had also only returned to the French team last year after six years in international exile and, after 44 goals in 46 games last season for Madrid, had also scored 10 goals in 16 games on his international return.
Giroud equals Henry’s scoring record
Olivier Giroud became France's joint all-time top scorer with his double against Australia on Tuesday.
Giroud found the net before and after the break to take his tally to 51 goals, matching Thierry Henry's mark, either side of a Kylian Mbappe goal after Adrien Rabiot had levelled following Craig Goodwin's shock early opener.
Les Bleus are the first defending champions to win their opening match since Brazil in 2006, which has already put them in good position to advance from the group phase, something Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014 and Germany in 2018 failed to do.
What are France's fixtures?
France will be playing Australia, Denmark and Tunisia in Group D.
What is France’s World Cup record?
France are defending champions, having beaten Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 final at the end of a near faultless run, including victories over Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium.
That was their second World Cup victory following the Zinedine Zidane-inspired triumph, when he scored twice in a 3-0 battering of Brazil in the 1998 final.
However, it was arguably the great midfielder’s head-first assault on Marco Materazzi and subsequent sending off that cost his side in the 2006 final, which Italy went on to win on penalties.
France boast some of the most talented players in the world and possess a particularly fearsome attack. They should ease through their group yet, while it would be unwise to rule them out of winning it again, France have a history of implosion on the international stage. Additionally, no team has managed back-to-back world titles since Brazil in 1958 and 1962.
Argentina | Australia | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon | Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | Ecuador | England | France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico | Morocco | Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Senegal | Serbia | South Korea | Spain | Switzerland | Tunisia | Uruguay | USA | Wales
What are the latest odds?
France are currently a best price of 7/1 to win the World Cup.