France coach Didier Deschamps has responded to Adrien Rabiot after the young midfielder opted to withdraw himself from the stand-by list for the FIFA World Cup.
Plus Argentina announce their 23-man squad and FIFA confirm their official song for the 2018 tournament.
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It's all in our latest installment of Opponent Watch.
There has been big news out of France with reports that Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot turned down a chance to be on stand-by for the FIFA World Cup.
With coach Didier Deschamps naming a 23-man squad, 11 players were included as stand-by options, including Rabiot who was just one of two midfielders as back-ups should an injury occur.
Yet after the 23-year-old sent an email to Deschamps saying he would not “be able to follow the training program”, the France coach has spoken out to make public his surprise at the decision.
“I was obviously surprised,” Deschamps told press about Rabiot.
“I can understand his immense disappointment but I’m convinced he made a huge mistake.
“Hopefully it will help him grow up and think. When you play at the highest level, you can let your emotions take over. I’m surprised because he is a young player with only a few caps.”
Deschamps isn’t the only French figure to speak to Rabiot’s decision, with France Football Federation Noel le Graet also describing the decision as “very surprising”.
"Rabiot is a high-quality player and an endearing boy who has always behaved well in national selections where he has evolved,” le Graet said in a statement.
"His disappointment does not allow him to give up and not to serve the France team. To be part of the collective of France, to be among the best French players, is a chance and a privilege in the career of a player.
"He made a bad decision. He penalises himself and sanctions himself alone."
OFFICIAL WORLD CUP SONG ANNOUNCED
FIFA have confirmed the official World Cup song for 2018, with some of the biggest stars in international music collaborating for the song ‘Live it Up’.
Produced by DJ and songwriter Diplo, Will Smith, Nicky Jam and Era Istrefi are the performers.
“It’s an honour to be asked to perform at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This global event brings people from all over the world together to cheer, laugh and experience magic. Collaborating with Nicky, Diplo and Era on this track represents harmony, eclectic flavours and genres coming together. At the end of the day, we just want to see the world dance”, said world-renowned Grammy Award-winning actor, songwriter and artist Will Smith.
“I’ve never made a song this international, so many stars have come together to make a strong vibe”, Diplo added.
Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli confirmed on Tuesday a provisional 23-man squad for the FIFA World Cup which, of course, contains the superstar names of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.
"We need to face the World Cup without fear," Sampaoli said after the announcement, which will also become Argentina’s official 23-man squad for Russia, unless there are injuries or late changes.
"In this list there are players with a lot of skill. The ones that understand our game better will be closer to being starters."
ARGENTINA’S 23-MAN SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate)
Defenders: Cristian Ansaldi (Torino), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Federico Fazio (Roma), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax)
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica)
Forwards: Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).
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