Soccer-World-Penpix of likely France squad for World Cup finals

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PARIS, April 29 (Reuters) - France's squad for the World Cup finals is likely to comprise the following 23 players: Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur) Age 27; 55 caps. Although he has had a difficult season behind an unreliable Tottenham defence, Lloris remains the undisputed No.1 having never disappointed with France. A soft-spoken character, he has even been awarded the captain's armband by former coach Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps did not take it away from him as Lloris can raise his voice when needed. Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille) Age 29; 16 caps. Fantastic shot-stopper with a taste for spectacular saves, the Kinshasa-born Olympique Marseille keeper lost his place as France's first choice to Lloris before the 2010 World Cup, the main reason being that he is not as safe on high balls. Stephane Ruffier (St Etienne) Age 27; 1 cap. Born in the Basque country, Ruffier played pelota at the age of four in his father's garage, but quickly turned to football. Another gifted shot-stopper, became number one at St Etienne at the expense of the experienced Jeremie Janot. Defenders: Patrice Evra (Manchester United) Age 33; 55 caps. Was France captain when Les Bleus went on strike at the 2010 World Cup. Came back after a five-game suspension but has failed to shine with the national team, showing too many defensive weaknesses. A likely starter as he does not really face competition for his place. Like many of his club-mates has had a difficult season at Manchester United. Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) Age 28; 15 caps. Centre back whose main asset is his sense of anticipation. A decent tackler, he sometimes jumps the gun and has been giving away too many penalties with Arsenal and France. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) Age 21; 5 caps. One of France's hottest prospects, centre back Varane shows impressive composure for a young player, dubbed the "best young central defender in the world" by his former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho. Injury prone, though. Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool) Age 24; 16 caps. Moved to Liverpool after his progression was barred by Alex and Thiago Silva at Paris St Germain, but struggled a bit to settle in to the pace and rhythm of the Premier League. His physical power and sense of anticipation, though, have won over Brendan Rodgers and the Parisian-born defender has been featuring more lately. Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) Age 31; 39 caps. Has lost his place as a regular starter since a broken leg ruled out him out of Euro 2012. Still a decent replacement for first choice Mathieu Debuchy despite a complicated season with Arsenal. Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United) Age 28; 19 caps. Beat Sagna over the years for the right-back position, especially because his final ball is much better than the Arsenal defender. Does a decent job in the defensive tasks as well. Lucas Digne (Paris St Germain) Age 20; 1 cap. Possibly Patrice Evra's eventual replacement at left back. Shows great pace and brings the ball forward, but needs to improve defensively. Eliaquim Mangala (Porto) Age 23; 2 caps. A composed centre back who reads the game well and has great pace. He is good at anticipating and at bringing the ball out of the defence, although he sometimes leaves gaps behind him. Midfielders: Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain) Age 27; 20 caps. Has incredible pace and covers a lot of space in the midfield. A box-to-box player whose passing abilities have improved in the last two seasons. Still needs some technical fine tuning to become the real deal. Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United) Age 28; 27 caps. Took a massive gamble when he left Newcastle United to join Paris St Germain in January, but managed to settle at the French champions albeit as second-choice behind Thiago Motta in the pecking order. Long unable to up his level in the big games, has improved in that area and was widely regarded as Newcastle's best player before he left England. Paul Pogba (Juventus) Age 21; 8 caps. In England they say of Pogba "the one Alex Ferguson should not have let go" following his departure from Manchester United in 2012 after only a handful of games for the club. Another defensive midfielder with a box-to-box drive, the 2013 Golden Boy award winner also has penchant for goal and for the spectacular. He has quickly made it to the first team at Juventus and is already a starter for France. Oozes class and talent. Josuha Guilavogui (St Etienne) Age 23; 5 caps. Impressive in one-to-one situations, the defensive midfielder has outstanding physical abilities, but failed to settle at Atletico Madrid, who have loaned him back to St Etienne to offer him playing time ahead of the World Cup. Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United) Age 24; 14 caps. A defensive midfielder with a lot of offensive aptitudes, can also play in a playmaking position although Deschamps is highly unlikely to play him in that role. Rather a right-flank midfielder replacement. Forwards: Loic Remy (Newcastle United) Age 27; 22 caps. Second-choice on the right wing behind Mathieu Valbuena, Remy has enjoyed a good season at Newcastle, where he has confirmed he had a decent eye for goal. Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) Age 31; 81 caps. Dubbed "the jewel of French football", Ribery has gained in maturity while recovering the joy of his early years -- a dangerous combination for France's rivals. The speedy Bayer Munich winger is Les Bleus's number one weapon. Has been France's Player of the Year three times, Germany's Player of the Year once and finished third in FIFA's Ballon d'Or for the best player in the world last year behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille) Age 29; 31 caps. A duty player who relishes combat despite his small size, the diminutive winger is a good dribbler and not one to make trouble. One of Deschamps's favourites. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) Age 27; 27 caps. Off-field problems have marred his season although his has not lost his scoring touch, but it was not enough to permanently secure the lone forward position in France's 4-3-3 system. Good in the air, holds play for other forwards but blows hot and cold for Arsenal where the fans love him one minute and curse him the next. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) Age 26; 65 caps. Benzema seems to have finally shed the extra kilos that previously prevented him to hit top form and has rediscovered his scoring touch with France after a 1,222-minute drought. Finding his mark as France's lone forward, he can also play in a deeper role. Has repaid Real's faith in him when they signed him for some 40.0 million euros from Olympique Lyonnais in 2009. Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad) Age 23; 1 cap. A threat on indirect set pieces, Griezmann also likes to cut inside. Only has one cap for France but he has a good eye for goal, a clear asset in a team who lacks killer instinct up front. Dimitri Payet (Olympique Marseille) Age 27; 7 caps. Good technique and fine dribbling skills are Payet's assets. He can play on the right wing should Olympique Marseille team mate Mathieu Valbuena sustain an injury or be suspended. (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Mike Collett)