Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman, Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez will be key to France's World Cup defence. - © DFL
Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman, Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez will be key to France's World Cup defence. - © DFL

Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez, Kingsley Coman and Dayot Upamecano: France's Bayern Munich block at the 2022 World Cup


It has been a complicated build-up to the 2022 World Cup for France, but fortunately for head coach Didier Deschamps, he has a Bayern Munich bedrock to build on.

Karim Benzema is the latest withdrawal from a squad already decimated by the losses of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku.

Eintracht Frankfurt’s Kolo Muani has been called up as cover, but it is the Bayern quartet of Lucas Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard and Kingsley Coman keeping Les Bleus’ spirits high on the eve of their title defence – not least in view of the German record champions’ extraordinary record of having provided a finalist in every edition of the World Cup since 1982.

Corentin Tolisso continued that proud tradition four years ago, and France's hopes are henceforth hinged on a selection of success-schooled stars who could account for a third of Deschamps’ standard starting XI in Qatar.

Form being such an important factor – even more so coming into an anomalous mid-season World Cup, when the national team coaches have had little over a week with their players – Deschamps will be comforted by the state of his Bayern quartet, as explains…

Lucas Hernandez
Position: Left-back/ centre-back
2022/23 Bundesliga appearances: 7

If Hernandez has had his share of injuries for the season, he timed it to perfection as far as Deschamps is concerned - initially at least. After starting the first four fixtures of the season, in which Bayern conceded just three goals and scored 16, Hernandez picked up an adductor strain after netting in the UEFA Champions League win against Barcelona. He missed just shy of two months, but returned for Bayern’s final three games of the calendar year.

Julian Nagelsmann fed him back into his team patiently, starting with a 26-minute outing in the 3-2 win over Hertha Berlin. No goals fell on his watch, after he took the place of the injured Alphonso Davies at left-back, and he held his position for almost an hour against Werder Bremen before being given a rest. He raised his minutes to 72 at Schalke before linking up with his national team, where he will be expected to add to his 32 caps in Qatar.

Hernandez has returned from injury to become a fixture of the Bayern defence, just in time for the start of the World Cup. - Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

He started ahead of his brother Theo at the World Cup, but suffered a ruptured ACL in France's first game and is now set for a spell on the sidelines.

Dayot Upamecano
Position: Central defender
2022/23 Bundesliga appearances: 15

That defence will be bossed by Upamecano, who has missed just eight minutes of Bayern’s Bundesliga campaign so far – and here is why: with 170 tackles won, he is ranked sixth in the division – the highest ranked defender – while his 60.28 per cent tackle success rate is also up there with the best. On the ball a total of 1,385 times, he has had more possession than all but one other player in the Bundesliga this season.

It is not difficult to see why either, with Upamecano boasting a 92.74 per cent pass success rate – fourth across the division – initiating attack after attack from his deep position. The 24-year-old is understandably one of the first names Nagelsmann puts on his team sheet, and his form this season has convinced Deschamps to follow suit, naming him as a starter in their last competitive fixture prior to the World Cup, in the UEFA Nations League with Denmark.

Watch: Analysing Upamecano, the modern centre-back

That convinced Deschamps to call up Upamecano, and with Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe another of France’s high-profile absentees, opportunity is knocking for a defender who, despite all the minutes already played this season, is primed and ready to go. “I hired a fitness trainer before the season and took little vacation,” he told Tz newspaper. “My goal was to start the season fit and prepared. You saw that straight away in the games.” Deschamps certainly did, and will count on Upamecano to run a tight ship in the middle of the defending world champions’ defence.

Benjamin Pavard
Position: Right-back/ centre-back
2022/23 Bundesliga appearances: 13

When Pavard unleased THAT strike against Argentina four years ago, it catapulted him onto the footballing stage. He was wearing the colours of VfB Stuttgart at the finals, but within a year was on the books of the record champions.

Now 26, Pavard has people paying tribute to his defensive performances without mentioning his Goal of the Tournament winner, though France would have no complaints about Hernandez and Pavard linking up in the final third the way they did in that round of 16 tie. Having a player in the squad who was unbeaten through his first 35 outings for his country (from U19 level to senior) is also a psychological boost.

France’s lucky charm, Pavard has also shown a level of adaptability which have seen him play both at right-back – a berth seemingly favoured for him by Deschamps – or in the centre of the defence, as he has also done for Bayern. Furthermore, he has been deployed in a further advanced position on the right of midfield, getting him closer to the sort of territory where his right foot can be used for more decisive deeds – just ask Argentina.

Kingsley Coman
Position: Winger
2022/23 Bundesliga appearances: 9

With France’s defence looking solid, Deschamps’ next priority is at the other end of the field, where he will be looking for more than the three goals which saw Les Bleus through as group winners four years ago. With the aforementioned Benzema pulling out of the squad, Coman could now advance as an alternative source of firepower, with Kylian Mbappe waiting for his assists in a re-worked 4-2-3-1 formation.

Coman has five goals across 40 caps for his country, although he missed the last World Cup due to a serious ankle ligament injury and will be more motivated than ever to make his mark this time around. The 26-year-old has had to fight with injury this season also, but when he has been on the field, Bayern have not lost. And he has supplied five assists and one goal for the Bavarians this season.

Watch: Coman's top 5 Bundesliga goals

And speaking of lucky charms, how about the statistic that Coman has won the domestic league title in all of his seasons as a professional, since 2013. Quite simply, where Coman is, success has followed, be it with Paris Saint-Germain (two Ligue 1 titles), Juventus (two Serie A titles) or Bayern, where he has already won seven Bundesliga crowns and is ready to top that remarkable record off with the ultimate of prizes – the only one missing from his collection – in Qatar.