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France Name Provisional World Cup 2010 Squad: No Nasri, Vieira or Benzema!

Raymond Domenech surprises many with his selection.

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Samir NASRI

Arsenal’s Samir Nasri, Manchester City’s Patrick Vieira and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema have been left out of France’s 30-man World Cup squad.
Ex-skipper Vieira was not included by coach Raymond Domenech’s initial squad for the finals in South Africa.
Arsenal’s in-form midfielder Nasri and Benzema, who cost Real £35m last summer, were also absent in a squad that features five uncapped players.
Barcelona’s Thierry Henry and Arsenal’s William Gallas were included.
The under-fire Domenech had promised to name his final 23-man list – even though Fifa’s deadline is not until 1 June – but changed his mind at the last minute.
He admitted he was hopeful the 33-year-old Vieira, who has 107 caps and was a member of the sides that won the 1998 World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000, would convince him worthy of a place.
“We have been following Pat for a while, hoping he could make it to the World Cup,” Domenech said. “It’s a difficult moment. We tried, he did too. It’s tough but there comes a time when you need to make a decision”.
A prominent member of the France side for a decade, Vieira last played for his country in June 2009.
His absence means that for the first time since winning the World Cup on home soil, France will play a major tournament without any player from the team that stunned Brazil 3-0 in the 1998 final at the Stade de France.
“It was a challenge for me but I will not be able to play one last major tournament for France,” Vieira told Canal Plus television. “He (Domenech) made a choice on sporting grounds, I accept that.”
Henry, now the France captain, was in the 1998 squad but did not play in the final.
He has appeared mostly as a substitute for Barcelona this season, but remains a key figure for France and it was his infamous handball that ensured their qualification at the expense of the Republic of Ireland.

Defender Gallas was included in the provisional squad for the finals, where the 2006 runners-up will meet hosts South Africa, Mexico and Uruguay in the group stages, despite suffering from a calf injury.
His Arsenal team-mates Gael Clichy, Abou Diaby and Bacary Sagna were also included, while Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and Chelsea pair Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka also made the initial list.
Domenech had reassuring words for Benzema, who has endured a frustrating first year at the Bernabeu.
“Karim has talent and he will come back,” Domenech said. “He’s had a difficult season with Real and we needed players who were fresh and hungry.”
Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse, who has scored 29 goals for Greek champions Panathinaikos, received his first call-up since being cut from the squad prior to the 2008 European Championship.
Among the surprises on the list were Stade Rennes’ teenage midfielder Yann M’Vila, Olympique Marseille’s winger Mathieu Valbuena and Bordeaux centre-back Marc Planus.

France squad:
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyon), Steve Mandanda(Olympique Marseille), Cedric Carrasso (Girondins Bordeaux), Mickael Landreau (Lille)
Defenders: Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), William Gallas (Arsenal), Eric Abidal (Barcelona), Rod Fanni (Stade Rennes), Sebastien Squillaci (Sevilla), Adil Rami (Lille), Marc Planus (Girondins Bordeaux), Gael Clichy(Arsenal), Anthony Reveillere (Olympique Lyon)
Midfielders: Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid), Alou Diarra(Girondins Bordeaux), Jeremy Toulalan (Olympique Lyon), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Yoann Gourcuff (Girondins Bordeaux), Abou Diaby (Arsenal), Yann M’Vila (Stade Rennes)
Forwards: Thierry Henry (Barcelona), Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Toulouse), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Sidney Govou (Olympique Lyon), Djibril Cisse (Panathinaikos), Hatem Ben Arfa (Olympique Marseille), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille), Jimmy Briand (Stade Rennes) (BBC Sport)

So there you have it, more than a few surprises. Raymond Domenech is a much hated figure both in his native France and beyond and his decision to leave out Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema is a contentious one to say the least.

Arsenal unsurpsingly have four players in the 30 man provisional squad but for Nasri to miss out is something of a shock, not least because faltering Abou Diaby was named. Many are expecting the French to mess up in South Africa, after all they were hardly convincing in qualifying and arguably shouldn’t even be there after THAT handball.

However it would be dangerous to rule them out as potential winners and they do have a very easy group so who knows.

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