Morgan Amalfitano called up to France squad

Marseille midfielder Morgan Amalfitano has been called up for

the first time to the France squad for Wednesday’s friendly in

Germany.

France coach Laurent Blanc relied on Marseille’s good run of

form in the Champions League but also on the old guard for a match

against one of the strongest teams in the world.

Marseille’s 1-0 win over Inter Milan on Wednesday did not go

unnoticed as Amalfitano and Marseille winger Mathieu Valbuena made

the squad on Thursday.

”That’s the type of player that I like,” Blanc said of

Amalfitano. ”They’re very strong technically and they often make

the right choice with the ball.”

Blanc also valued experience by recalling AC Milan center back

Philippe Mexes, Manchester United left back Patrice Evra and

Tottenham forward Louis Saha.

”He’s a guy on whom I rely a lot,” Blanc said of Mexes. ”He’s

a defender who’s very good man-to-man but also in building up

plays. His profile is different from the other defenders.”

Mexes was dropped from the squad last year because of a knee

injury. His last match with France was a goalless draw with Croatia

in a friendly last March.

France is unbeaten in its last 17 matches, but it will face its

strongest opponent since a 2-0 loss to Spain in a friendly two

years ago.

”That match will help us assess our value against a team which

is one of the best two in the world with Spain,” Blanc said. ”We

are not at the level of Germany yet. But we’ll go to Germany with

ambitions.”

Germany was a semifinalist at the 2010 World Cup and lost the

European Championship final to Spain in 2008.

”We will play to win in Germany,” Blanc said. ”Playing the

best teams is the most exciting thing. What do we have at stake?

Everybody sees us lose in Germany. We know that’s what people

think. I hope that will give us extra motivation.”

France was knocked out in the first round at both the World Cup

in South Africa and Euro 2008, in both cases without winning a

match.

Blanc was given the tough task to rebuild a competitive France

team. He will miss Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema and Marseille

forward Loic Remy for the match in Germany.

Benzema picked up a groin injury in a 1-1 draw with CSKA Moscow

in the Champions League on Tuesday while Remy injured his right

thigh in Marseille’s 3-1 win over Bourg-Peronnas in the last 16 of

the French Cup last week.

Blanc will instead rely on Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud,

the top scorer in the French league, and Saha to crack Germany’s

defense.

”The France team must be open to the player who’s in form,”

Blanc said about his squad policy. ”If there’s a player who

performs well in the French league, there will certainly be a spot

for him in the squad for the European Championship.”

Blanc also named the three players who will have strong

responsibilities within the squad and who are the favorites for

wearing the captain’s armband: Mexes, Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris

and Barcelona defender Eric Abidal.

The question of the captaincy has become more and more important

following the fiasco in South Africa, when then-captain Evra led a

mutiny that caused a training strike.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Lyon),

Steve Mandanda (Marseille).

Defenders: Eric Abidal (Barcelona), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille),

Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Philippe Mexes (AC Milan), Adil

Rami (Valencia), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Mamadou Sakho (Paris

Saint-Germain).

Midfielders: Morgan Amalfitano (Marseille), Yohan Cabaye

(Newcastle), Alou Diarra (Marseille), Yann M’Vila (Rennes), Florent

Malouda (Chelsea), Marvin Martin (Sochaux), Samir Nasri (Manchester

City).

Forwards: Kevin Gameiro (Paris Saint-Germain), Olivier Giroud

(Montpellier), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain), Franck Ribery

(Bayern Munich), Louis Saha (Tottenham), Mathieu Valbuena

(Marseille).