For far too long Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin was overlooked by the French national team despite his fantastic performances for his club as they went from League One to the Premier League.
Now, with the poor form of former Newcastle United star Yohan Cabaye severely affecting his confidence and play, it is high time for Schneiderlin to step into Cabaye’s shoes and permanently replace the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder.
Didier Deschamps looks likely to continue with his 4-3-3 formation with Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi playing either side of the midfield anchor. For the last two years, Cabaye has played this role fairly well, but whenever Les Bleus came up against a tough, more physical opponent, Deschamps usually called upon Moussa Sissoko to bolster the strength of the midfield.
With Schneiderlin set to start against Albania on Friday, he has a chance to show Deschamps that not only can he replace Cabaye in terms of passing, experience and hard work, but he can provide France with more defensive presence and help do battle with Europe’s stronger opponents.
Schneiderlin deserved his place in the World Cup squad that went to Brazil, but his part was nothing more than a squad player. However, now the Southampton man has his chance to show Deschamps he can play a more active part.
It is very likely that Pogba will play both games against Albania and Sweden and the other two positions will be rotated between Schneiderlin, Sissoko, Maxime Gonalons and Josuha Guilavogui. If Schneiderlin can push for the start against Albania and impress, there is every chance Deschamps could decide to play him in both games.
The 25-year-old is one of the key reasons that Southampton are currently second in the Premier League, and now is the perfect time for the former Strasbourg player to step out from behind Cabaye’s shadow and make his place in the France starting XI permanent.
He will still only be 26 when Euro 2016 comes around, and if the midfielder is still reading the game as well, making interceptions and getting involved in the dirty side of the game, he could be the perfect foil for Pogba and Matuidi as France try to win the Euros on home soil.