In Sakho and Varane France have solid foundations for World Cup success

Mamadou Sakho

The central defensive duo complement each other's styles: Sakho robust yet efficient, Varane elegant but firm.

 

France have performed well in the World Cup thus far and that is in no small part to striker Karim Benzema's goals, which could explain why the contributions of Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho and Real Madrid's Raphael Varane have been somewhat overlooked.

 

Sakho may have had one or two shaky moments in his debut season at Anfield, but to be fair that did not extend to just how effective he is at passing the ball out of defence. Indeed his passing is quite underrated given the former PSG captain can occasionally look awkward in possession.

 

Thankfully for France, Sakho has maintained his accuracy with the ball with the national team.

 

Furthermore his leadership qualities shown during his time with PSG have once again come to the fore. That was one thing which undermined the 24-year-old's debut season in the Premier League but this was more to do with the fact that his master of the English language was still limited.

 

With France however it goes without saying that Sakho can communicate much better, especially with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and to a greater extent defensive partner Varane.

 

How Sakho and Varane have successfully managed opposition centre-forwards owes a lot to their ability to talk to one another, the former known for being quite a vocal presence not only out on the pitch but in the dressing room too.

 

Of course both players are yet to come up against a striker of say, Luis Suarez's calibre, so whether they can handle tougher tests only time will tell.

 

Varane's composure, as well as his technical and tactical qualities, have provided a perfect foil for Sakho and it is no surprise that the 1998 Word Cup winners are yet to concede any goals when they have been on the pitch together in Brazil.

It was probably not a coincidence then that the two concessions that eventually made occurred after Sakho's removal due to injury in the second-half against Switzerland. Laurent Koscielny was his replacement and was at fault for both goals.

 

France as a whole are also benefitting not only from one of the perceived weaker groups in Brazil, but also a lack of expectation following their less than convincing World Cup qualification play-off tie with Ukraine.

 

They had to overturn a 2-0 defecit from the first-leg after all in what was not exactly the greatest of preparations.

 

Nevertheless Les Bleus should not be belittled for overcoming the first hurdle at the World Cup and progressing beyond the group stages where other so-called big footballing nations such as England and Italy have already faltered.

 

The sense is growing, however, that how far France go could well depend on 'SAV'.

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