Twelve Gunners will be in action in Brazil competing for seven different countries. Below is a preview on the Arsenal stars representing France, Germany and Belgium in the 2014 World Cup. Tomorrow's part two will feature Gunners in action for England, Spain, Costa Rica and Switzerland.
Didier Deschamps' French squad boasts three Gunners in Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna (and lacks one former Gunner bad boy in Samir Nasri, an absence that I'm sure none of us shed too many tears over). In fact, not even the ruling out of Franck Ribery was enough to get Nasri back in the final 23, and recent reports suggest that Koscielny's opinion on the matter and his position as a senior member of the side may have swayed Deschamps' decision to exclude the Manchester City midfielder.
Les Bleus will face Honduras in their opening match of the tournament on June 15th, fresh off an 8-0
|Koscielny is key to France's success in Brazil|
It will be interesting to see how much action Giroud gets in Brazil, as he will most likely be playing back up to Real Madrid's Karim Benzema. Sagna, who played the second half of France's final tune up match against Jamaica, will also play a secondary role behind Newcastle's right back, Mathieu Debuchy. Koscielny, who finished third in the voting for Arsenal player of the season, is France's premiere central defender and will partner with either Sakho or Varane in the center of the pitch for Les Bleus. He will undoubtedly be hugely influential for the French side.
The DFB have three Gunners of their own, including Mertesacker, Ozil and Podolski. They begin their tournament action against Portugal on June 16th, and will face the USA and Ghana in the group stage as well, the two other teams that comprise the "Group of Death" (Group G). There's really no need to reiterate the strength of the German side– ranked second behind Spain in the FIFA World Rankings– and it suffices to say that it will be incredibly exciting to see how far they go in Brazil (assuming that they finish first in the group, followed closely by the good old US of A).
|From left to right: Poldi, Ozil, BFG|
Credit: Kieran Clarke
It's no secret that the German team revolves around the great Wizard of Oz, and Germans and Gunners alike will be looking for standout performances by Mesut Ozil not only for the benefit of the DFB, but also in hopes of inciting some fear in Premier League opponents for next season. The midfield maestro will certainly make his presence known in Brazil. And finally, a-ha Poldi– although he will most likely play a role off the German bench– is a very important member of the squad and will enter the tournament having scored in Germany's last friendly vs. Armenia.
Arsenal skipper Thomas Vermaelen is the lone Gunner on the dark horse Belgian side that finds itself in Group H along with Russia, South Korea and Algeria. Belgium will play Algeria on June 17th in their opening match, and should have no problem advancing through to the knockout rounds of the tournament.
|Vermaelen in action for the Gunners|
Credit: Ronnie Macdonald
Unfortunately, it appears as though Vermaelen may have lost his starting position for both the Gunners and Belgium, and it's unclear what (if any) influence he will have on the Belgian's success or lack thereof in Brazil. He was an unused sub in Belgium's lackluster 1-0 win over Tunisia, and with Vertonghen at left-back, Alderweireld at right, and Kompany and Van Buyten pairing up in the center of the pitch, it looks like it will be quite difficult for the Arsenal defender to get minutes on the field.
Stay tuned for part two tomorrow, and as always, COYG. Brazil is only 3 days away.