France World Cup squad profile: The inside track on tournament favourites

The defending champions look set for another run deep in the tournament.

France national football team

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Two-time winners and defending champions France head to Qatar with a star-studded squad and high expectations of a long run in the tournament once again. They followed up their 2018 success with a disappointing Round of 16 exit at Euro 2020, so will be eager to showcase this squad is not finished yet. 

Out of the last six World Cups, France won two (1998 and 2018), been runners-up (2006) and had two group stage exits in 2002 and 2010. Their two titles and losing finalist tournaments have something in common – they were both hosted in Europe. If France are to go deep, they’ll have to do something they haven’t done since 1986 – get past a quarter-final of a World Cup outside of Europe.

Here to take a look at their chances at the World Cup 2022 is Paddy Power footy trader Brian McDonnell.

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France World Cup 2022 qualifying record

France qualified top of their qualification group with five wins and three draws from their eight games against Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kazakhstan. Two draws against Ukraine were notable in a set of fixtures which was never going to cause the world champions many problems. Antoine Griezmann led the scoring charts with six , ahead of Kylian Mbappe who bagged five – despite only scoring in the last two group games.

Who is the France manager?

Didier Deschamps is in his 10th year at the helm of the national team. In that time, he has taken France to a European Championship final (2016) and become only the third person to win the World Cup as a player and manager when France lifted the trophy in 2018. France also won the Nations League in 2021.

As a player he won numerous titles as well, lifting the Champions League with Marseille and Juventus before helping Valencia reach the final in 2001. He won league titles in France and Italy and won the FA Cup in his only season in England, lifting it with Chelsea in 2000. At international level he won the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000, so it’s fair to say success follows Deschamps wherever he goes.

Didier Deschamp, France manager

France World Cup squad

The French national team has an embarrassment of riches all over the park, but as we’ve seen from previous tournaments (see 2010) it’s not just quality players that win you World Cups, you need the right team spirit too. 

Captain Hugo Lloris is likely to break the French all time appearances record (142) in Qatar, needing just four more caps for the honour. At the back, Dayot Upamecano, William Saliba, Jules Kounde and Raphael Varane (injury permitting) will all be vying for starting roles.

In the midfield, Real Madrid pair of Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga are ones to watch in the absence of injured duo N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba.

Upfront, superstars Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema (now injured and expected to miss the rest of the tournament) will be complemented by Antoine Griezmann. Question marks remain whether Olivier Giroud will be part of Deschamps 26-man squad, with the veteran Milan striker only two goals off Thierry Henry’s all-time record of 51 goals for the national team. 

Deschamps has been mixing and matching his formations as he tries to fit Mbappe and Benzema into the same team. At Euro 2020, he switched to a 3-4-2-1 formation away from his tried-and-tested 4-3-3. He could go to a traditional 4-4-2 and have the two lead the line for this year’s World Cup.

  • Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola, Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda
  • Defenders: Lucas Hernandez, Theo Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Ibrahima Konate, Jules Koundé, Benjamin Pavard, William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Raphael Varane
  • Midfielders: Youssouf Fofana, Eduardo Camavinga, Matteo Guendouzi, Adrien Rabiot, Aurelien Tchouameni, Jordan Veretout
  • Forwards: Karim Benzema, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe, Christopher Nkunku

France Key Player

If there is any doubt regarding who the key man is for PSG, with Neymar likely having something to say, there’s no doubt who the main player is for this French team. At the age of just 23, Kylian Mbappe has more than 350 senior appearances for club and country, scoring more than 200 times. At the 2018 World Cup, a 19-year-old Mbappe lit up the tournament with four goals, including a brilliant solo effort v Argentina and one in the final against Croatia, winning the tournament’s Best Young Player award.

His ability to stretch defences with his blistering pace, close control and emphatic finishing means Mbappe will be in the nightmares of every defender he comes up against.

France World Cup Prospects

France are currently second-favourites behind Brazil to retain the World Cup. Four of the last five defending champions have failed to make it out of the Group Stage in the next tournament and France typically have been slow starters. However, that wasn’t the case this time around and Le Bleus booked their place in the last 16 with a game to spare.

The French usually get better and better as tournaments go on and you wouldn’t back against them going all the way – it is certainly unlikely they will be underdogs in any match. If they top their group, a potential mouth-watering semi-final could pit them with Brazil, which is the match we all want to see.

France World Cup Winner Odds

France World Cup 2022 Fixtures

November 22, 7pm: France 4-1 Australia

November 26, 4pm: France 2-1 Denmark

November 30, 3pm: Tunisia 1-0 France

December 4, 3pnm: France v Poland

CLICK BELOW FOR TEAM PREVIEWS ON FRANCE’S GROUP D RIVALS

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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