Emmanuel Petit thinks fellow Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette needs to put in a performance in Madrid on Thursday to convince Didier Deschamps to name him in his World Cup squad this summer.
We spoke to Petit after the first-leg last week, and asked him what he thought of Lacazette’s chances of making the trip with the national team. The striker had a dip in form at the end of last year, but since his knee surgery he has seven goals in as many games.
Nonetheless, the former Arsenal midfielder says the 26-year-old needs one last big performance to nail down his place.
“I think the sprint for the final list, you can see the competition between players,” Petit told Daily Cannon. “I’ve seen that as well with Payet [on Thursday], with Marseille, or Thauvin. Both in the same situation as Lacazette, and they did great as well.
“So I think the list is not done, we had some injured players as well up front, with the national team. Lacazette, I think the national manager knows him already very well, knows his profile. I think what he’s doing is great, but if Lacazette can make himself important in the return game against Atletico that would be very good for him.”
France have so much strength in depth at the moment. You think of starting strikers like Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, but behind them there’s Anthony Martial and Kylian Mbappe, all of whom are fighting to play up front for the side.
For that reason, Petit says Lacazette’s place is still not a sure thing right now, but he’s on the right track.
“He has a good chance to be part of the list, but he’s not a guarantee,” he continued. “He has to fight to win his position. But there are other players as well fighting hard. I think he has a good chance, he knows he’s not the first choice, but he knows if he keeps on doing what he’s doing he’s going to be on the list.”
Something that must work in Lacazette’s favour is the fact he used this season to challenge himself, and push himself forward. It would be easy to stay in Lyon and rack up goals, many of which came from the penalty spot in 2016/17.
Instead, he chose to come to England, to a tough, physical league with many world class stars. He chose to play for a club constantly in the headlines, to try and elevate his game. Hopefully he’ll be a better player for it, and Deschamps will recognise that. We’ll see.
Emmanuel Petit is a Paddy Power ambassador. Read his columns and more over on news.paddypower.com