France – @DavidGK1Scott
When we think of ‘France’ and ‘Goalkeepers’, the image of Fabian Barthez’s baldy head being kissed, will be forever planted in our memories.
We could also think of, in my opinion, the BEST double save we have ever witnessed, being carried out by Gregory Coupet in the famous Barcelona vs Lyon Champions League Match in 2001.
However, this article is based upon the present crop of Goalkeepers that the France National Goalkeeping Coach, Franck Raviot, has at his disposal.
So, let’s have a look at what the 1 time World Cup winners, have to offer us in their Goalkeeping department.
The Tottenham No. 1, has officially established himself as his country’s top Goalkeeper, since his international debut in 2008. Not only has he managed to achieve 54 international caps, in just 5 years. The 27 year old has also been given the honour of captaining his country, under the leadership of Didier Deschamps.
In the early stages of his career at Nice, it was clearly evident he would reach the top level of his profession. It was because of his consistent performances, that he earned himself a move to Lyon in 2008 for a reported fee of, €8.5 Million.
Since his move to Spurs in 2012, he has displayed outstanding performances on a consistent basis, which seen him relegate Brad Friedel to the bench and has ultimately made him, one of the best Goalkeepers in the world today.
Lloris’s game style has evolved, along with the position its self. He plays the ‘Sweeper’ role, better than any of his peers. Which, in today’s game, is a very important aspect of a Goalkeepers repertoire.
His shot stopping ability, along with his movement and reflexes, are second to none.
And to be completely honest, his all round game is very good.
However, due to his eagerness to play the ‘Sweeper’ role, I feel he gets caught out of position from time to time. Because he is always on the front foot, looking to close down the opponent, he has a tendency to be too close to the opposition, thus resulting in limited reaction time to save the attempt at goal.
Taking all aspects into consideration, i believe with no doubt that Lloris will be the French No. 1 for many years to come. Therefore, breaking Fabian Barthez’s record of most decorated Goalkeeper at 87 caps.
Mandanda, without doubt, has been the most consistent Goalkeeper in League 1 since his arrival at Marseille in 2007. His performances have earned him the ‘League 1 Goalkeeper of the year’ on two different occasions.
He has been a constant figure in the France National Squad, since his debut in 2008, earning 16 caps.
Due to his strong displays both domestically and on the European stage, the 29 year old Marseille captain has been heavily linked with a move away from Stade Velodrome, with Athletico Madrid and Arsenal noted as likely suitors.
However, it would be a fair analysis to say, this season has not been one of his best.
During the current campaign, Mandanda was widely criticised for his Champions League displays, conceding 14 goals in 6 games. Some of it was warranted, but he was definitely left exposed by weak defending.
His eccentric style, leads him to have a tendency to ‘flap’ at crossed balls in his penalty box. His mental awareness is also a cause for concern, resulting in more frequent mistakes than he would hope for.
But, his shot stopping ability, coupled with his outstanding agility, will be enough to book his ticket to Brazil this summer.
Although, he has lost the battle with Lloris for the starting jersey, he remains a popular figure amongst his peers and a constant name within the squad selection.
Now, at this point the selection process becomes interesting. My No. 1 & 2 jerseys are taken. The 3rd slot is up for grabs and it is a tight call between these two Goalkeepers.
In my opinion, Stéphane Ruffier has been vastly under rated, when it comes to international recognition. He is very unlucky, to have just 1 cap to his name.
The accomplished Ruffier has been in fantastic form for St. Etienne this season.
With all the attention in France being on the star-studded Paris St-Germain squad, not much attention has been paid to Saint Etienne and their keeper Stephane Ruffier.
In 36 matches in all competitions, the 26-year-old Frenchman has recorded 17 clean sheets and conceded just 25 goals.
The 27 year old has been one of the main reasons why Les Verts are sitting in fifth place in the League 1 table at the moment, which has them in contention for a spot in Europe next season.
His fantastic footwork and reflexes are testament to his accolade of having the highest save percentage, in League 1 this season.
The former Monaco keepers handling can be brought into question at times. But, his reaction time to recover from mistakes is very impressive.
For me, a fantastic Goalkeeper to have at your disposal is called upon.
On game time basis alone, Landraëu is the most experienced French Goalkeeper available. He has been playing professionally since 1996, making him the record holder for most League 1 appearances. However, the fact he has just 11 caps to his name during his career, speaks volumes.
The 35 year old is well travelled throughout the top clubs in France, playing for Nantes, PSG, Lille and his present club Bastia.
Throughout his career, controversy has always followed him. Disagreements with club officials seems to be a trend. And, high profile mistakes under former France National Manager, Raymond Domenech, also catching the lime light.
Performance wise, he has undoubtedly been a steady performer, with very mature performances.
However, this season the years seem to be catching up on him quicker than ever.
With a few injuries to battle against, he has done relatively well to play at a fairly consistent level. However, his performances have been in question throughout the current campaign on a number of times.
Although his decision making is still very good, as would be expected from a Goalkeeper with such experience, his movement is becoming slower, resulting in goals that he would have saved 5 years ago. Not getting across his goal quick enough into the correct positions and struggling to react to game time speed situations quickly enough, has been enough to raise some questionable eyebrows.
But, his old head and experience would undoubtedly prove invaluable to Deschamps during the World Cup. If indeed, the top 2 Goalkeepers were to get injured, would the manager like to have a Goalkeeper with over 600 professional league appearances, ready to take the jersey? He could certainly do a lot worse!
So, in conclusion…Who do I think will be the 3 Goalkeepers selected for France, in their World Cup Squad?
It’s all down to that 3rd choice slot, behind the established front pairing. I have thought about this for a few days now, taking into consideration all aspects of the Goalkeepers. It is a difficult decision, as both Goalkeepers have their own individual strengths and weaknesses.
However, after reading an interview with current manager, Didier Deschamps, in which he indicated his squad would be picked with a view to building for Euro 2016, I was inclined to favour the youth, over experience.