Franck Ribery will miss the 2014 World Cup with a back injury. The French Football Federation announced the Bayern Munich star would be unable to participate in the tournament Friday. He joins a growing list of players on the sidelines that includes, among others, Spain’s Diego Costa (doubtful) and Colombia’s Radamel Falcao (out). Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is no lock to play after minor knee surgery, while reports are growing that Cristiano Ronaldo’s leg issues could hamper him from appearing in Brazil. England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also doubtful, following a knee injury Wednesday in a friendly vs. Ecuador. Others like Belgium’s Christian Benteke and Spain backup keeper Victor Valdes were ruled out long ago.
The grind of the unforgiving 11-month European club season certainly plays a factor in so many star players winding up on the sideline come June. It’s no surprise high-profile players like Ribery or Ronaldo — who logged massive minutes in both domestic competitions and European competitions like the Champions League, concurrently, aren’t 100 percent fresh heading into the World Cup.
Les Bleus looked like an intriguing darkhorse before the Ribery news. With a talented, Paul Pogba-led midfield, France could still make waves in Brazil — Group E is very forgiving, although the runner-up likely gets a powerful Argentina team in the Round of 16.
If there’s any silver lining here for France and coach Didier Deschamps it does have another capable left winger on its roster in Real Sociedad’s Antoine Griezmann. Figure that Griezmann, brilliant at the start of the 2013-14 season before fading late, will be one of the breakout players in Brazil. Remy Cabella — a player linked to Newcastle United — was recalled to replace Ribery.
Oh right, even with the injury to Ribery and Clément Grenier, Deschamps didn’t recall Samir Nasri. Safe guess Nasri’s girlfriend ensured that his phone didn’t ring.