Just a few days ago, England manager Gareth Southgate faced backlash as he chose to drop Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere from the squad that will be travelling to Russia for the FIFA World Cup. Wilshere, who displayed terrific form for the club and became a regular for Arsenal this season, was fit to be selected in the 23-man squad, but was dropped. The selection of Arsenal forward, Danny Welbeck, who did not have his best season so far, further led fans to question the selection.
On Friday, the attention turned towards France and Portugal, as the two countries also dropped some influential and big names from the squad. While France decided to not include Manchester United’s winger Anthony Martial and Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette, Portugal selected only 13 members from their Euro 2016 winning squad. Nani, Renato Sanchez and the goalscorer from the final Eder, are all significant absentees from Portugal’s 23-man squad, which was announced late Thursday.
For France, the selection of striker Olivier Giroud over Lacazette became the most critical point of contention. Several fans joked that the former’s decision to leave Arsenal led to coach Didier Deschamps making his selection.
Benjamin Mendy, the guy who’s only played like 5 games this season for Manchester City, is somehow in the France squad for the World Cup yet Martial isn’t.. 🤔
— Ryan. 🔴 (@Vintage_Utd) 17 May 2018
France omit Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette from World Cup Squad…wow!
— Sidney 🚀♨ (@sidramatic1) 15 May 2018
France world cup squad is a huge risk to play with. No Payet Martial and Lacazette. What on earth is the manager thinking.
— ♠Prakash_Raja♠ (@Emirates_27) 18 May 2018
Benzema, Payet, Martial, Lacazette, Wissam Ben Yedder, Rabiot, Gignac all didn’t make it to the France world cup squad.
but because Wilshere was dropped out of the England squad Arsenal fans already see Southgate as a dumb and incompetent manager
NEXT JOKE PLEASE! 😂😂😂
— Bankole Jnr (@manlikebanksz) 17 May 2018
Anthony Martial not making it for France’s national squad for the world cup, will imply that he needs to move to a bigger club in order to achieve his ambition of playing regularly for his country.#MUFC pic.twitter.com/tek9O2KSOm
— Idris #MY7H #بؤساء (@KingIdris1111) 17 May 2018
Giroud knew what he was doing leaving Arsenal in January. Visionary.
— Merci Arsene (@Faroukfabulous) 17 May 2018
If Giroud would have stuck at Arsenal he would have missed out of France World Cup squad like Lacazzete .
— Kαyeli (@Kayeli_) 17 May 2018
In his explanation on the omission of the two players, Deschamps told reporters: “There is especially strong competition. I consider Giroud, (Antoine) Griezmann, (Kylian) Mbappe and (Nabil) Fekir as axial strikers, even if they can play in other positions. Just watch Mbappe’s performance in this position against Russia recently. I think there is no point in accumulating multiple players in the same position.”
For Portugal, the biggest name that was left out was former Manchester United man Nani, who was a goalscorer in Euro Cup for Portugal. The Lazio midfielder, who did not enjoy his best season this year, could not make it to the team, and fans dub that his absence will hurt Portugal on the biggest stage.
Shocked that Portugal have left Semedo out of their World Cup squad. Feel for him.
— TalkFCB (@FCBNewsRoom) 17 May 2018
This Portugal squad doesn’t make sense. Can somebody explain why Semedo, Cancelo, Danilo Perriera and Nani are not included in sqaud?
— Minhal Raza (@Minhal512) 17 May 2018
No Eder, Nani, or Renato Sanches in the Portugal squad. That’s all our scorers from Euro 2016. Lord help us.
— SpiderShepherdSilva (@JasonSilva91) 17 May 2018
Neves, Semedo and Nani should all be in. So i am actually dissappointed. Nani has done nothing for Lazio sure, but he always puts in a shift for Portugal.
— Adriano (@AdrianAv17) 17 May 2018
Ronaldo fans will try and have people believe he was the sole reason Portugal got to the Euro 16 final, when Nani was just as important. Big mistake for Santos to leave him out of their world cup squad. Semedo also really deserved a place. No Eder either. 😉
— Veron (@MesmericMessi) 17 May 2018
On being questioned whether the squad is weaker than the one that went to France for Euro Cup in 2016, Portugal manager Fernando Santos said that he has “full confidence” in the team. “It is not possible to say if the squad is stronger than the Euros. I have absolute confidence in this squad, as I had in the other. Portugal, in a hundred years, had never won anything. With the quality of the players in the squad now, if you ask me, I say that I have the same confidence in both groups,” he said.