France are looking formidable as old-guard step up

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Much has been made of France's amazing youth prospects but last night their more experienced cast of players put on a brilliant performance as they ticked off another victory ahead of the European Championships next summer where they will play host. 

With injury to Paul Pogba, new Marseille signing Lassana Diarra was recalled to the starting line-up, as he won his first cap in five years and put in a brilliant performance at the heart of the French midfield. The ex-Real Madrid man has started the Ligue 1 campaign in wonderful form and he vindicated Didier Deschamps' decision to pick him through his combative and assured showing alongside Blaise Matuidi and Yohan Cabaye in the midfield.

Cabaye is another interesting case. Until recently it appeared that the Crystal Palace record signing would not be in Deschamps' plans. A player who was never really trusted by Laurent Blanc at PSG, his move back to the Premier League has significantly improved his chances of being selected for the final 23 for next summer's Euros and his performance last night would have done him no harm either as he received a standing ovation from the French fans after his majestic passing performance that also saw him rewarded with a goal for his hard work. 


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The real star of the show, however, was Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema. With two goals and an assist, the striker showed that, despite all the hype around Anthony Martial and his brilliant early form with new club Manchester United, he is still very much the main man. 

He has been Madrid's best player too since the new campaign started, with six goals from his first six La Liga games and manager Rafael Benitez would have been cringing at the sight of his talismanic striker limping off with a thigh injury.

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France looked classy and confident and the strength of their full squad last night showed the rest of Europe why they are one of the hottest favourites to lift the trophy next summer on their home soil. Last season's Ligue 1 top scorer and player of the season Alexandre Lacazette was on the bench, as were talented strike duo Olivier Giroud and Anthony Martial.

Paul Pogba was absent from the squad, as was Laurent Koscielny and Geoffrey Kondogbia. It's going to be one hell of a fight for many players to be chosen in Didier Deschamps' final 23 next summer.

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