Lassana Diarra

Coauthored by Jeremy Roth and David Talpalar


(Courtesy of ESPN)

Although Matuidi and Pogba have the defensive capabilities that most European midfields’ lack, it is likely that Diarra, or N’Golo Kante (discussed previously), will be the anchor of the midfield–the most defensive of the three. Diarra, 31, is a practicing Muslim of African descent. He has already been capped by the French 33 times in his career, with his 0 goals a reference to the fact that he is more depended on defensively than going forward. Tragically, Diarra’s cousin was killed in the Paris terrorist attacks late last year, but Diarra plays on in his memory with a heavy heart (Fulco).

Diarra is considered a journeyman in the sense that he has played at many different clubs across the world over the course of his career. Having brought his talents to England, Russia, and Spain, Diarra has returned home to play for Marseille in France. Initially written off as “too small,” Diarra has blossomed into a great professional footballer (ESPN).

Despite standing at a mere 5 feet and 7 inches Diarra, much like Kante, has impressed with his strength and surprisingly good first touch for a defensive midfielder. His job is to break up the opposition’s attack and to recycle possession for his own team, both things which he does exceptionally well, as is evidenced in the video below against the all-mighty PSG. Having taken a mere 10 shots in 23 matches all year for Marseille, do not expect Diarra to get forward very often, although he does have 1 goal and 1 assist to his name this year (ESPN). Still, despite his low returns on paper, Diarra is a critical asset to any team he plays for.

“Lass,” as his teammates call him, shows off his tactical awareness and good passing (YouTube)

How to cite this article: “Projected France Starting XI at Euro 2016” Written by Jeremy Roth and David Talpalar (2016), European Cup 2016 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, (accessed on (date)).