France kick off their World Cup preparations in earnest today with the first of three friendlies leading up to the summer tournament when they take on Norway in Paris. And for Liverpool fans, the big news is that Didier Deschamps has chosen Mamadou Sakho to captain his side in place of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who won't be starting today's match.
"It's a mix of things," said Deschamps when asked why he'd chosen Sakho to captain his side tonight and be his vice captain in Brazil. "What he does on the field and also what he gives off the pitch. It's something natural about him, and I don't want [the captaincy] to burden him—in fact quite the opposite."
Though he shared time with Daniel Agger at Liverpool this season, the 24-year-old Sakho staked his claim to a key role in the France side in November when his two goals—one credited as a Ukraine own goal—salvaged France's World Cup dreams. Trailing Ukraine from the first leg of their qualification playoff, it was Sakho who gave them a chance.
Now, he's been rewarded for it by Deschamps, being handed the captaincy in Lloris' absence and a near guarantee of a starting role in Brazil next month. After nearly missing out entirely, at the World Cup, France have a favourable draw as part of Group E alongside Switzerland, Honduras, and Ecuador. Their first match is against Honduras on the 15th of June.
Today's friendly against Norway gets under way at 8PM BST/3PM EST and can be seen live in the UK on BT Sport.