FIFA World Cup 2022: France down to one left-back as Lucas Hernandez pulls out of Qatar with torn ACL

France v Australia: Group D - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
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Francesca comfortable 4-1 win over Australia in the opening game of the group stage on Tuesday did not come without some discomfort. Les Bleus left back Lucas Hernandez left the game just 13 minutes into the Socceroos’ scoring run with what was later diagnosed via MRI as a torn ACL in his right knee, according to French Football Federation.

It’s an injury that will not only spell the end of his World Cup run, but also rule him out of action for Bayern Munich for the foreseeable future as the German club prepare for the Champions League knockout stages in February.

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Hernandez was replaced by his younger brother Theo Hernandez, who scored an assist in the match, but there is now only one left-back left in Didier Deschamps’ squad.

To make matters worse for Deschamps, when Karim Benzema went down with an injury that kept him out of this World Cup, he chose not to bring in a replacement, so he’s now down to just 24 for the rest of France’s games. It was a World Cup with an absolute deluge of injuries for France with Presnal Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku also being replaced from the starting roster, while N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and others were not fit enough to be selected.

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At this stage, someone will need to play out of position at left-back if Hernandez can’t play while Benjamin Pavard and Jules Conte are the only defenders with experience playing on the right. If France are able to maintain their free-flowing attack led by Oliver Giroud and Kylian Mbappe during the World Cup, they may not need to defend much. But as we get deeper into the tournament, the yellow cards may start to pile up and the lack of defensive depth will be something to watch.

Recent history is not on France’s side, with four of the previous five champions having failed in the group stage of the next World Cup. It’s a trend that started in 2002 after Les Bleus won their first World Cup title in 1998, and it’s a taboo they could effectively destroy this time in Qatar.

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