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France are a bonafide footballing power house having won the World Cup twice in 1998 and 2018 along with the Euros in 1984 and 2000. Currently ranked second in the Fifa World Rankings, Les Bleus will be looking to build on their success at Russia 2018.
In between their World Cup wins and Euro victories they were disappointing having failed to get out of the group in 2002 and being dumped out of Euro 2004 by Greece in the quarter-finals. They were runners-up to Portugal on home soil at Euro 2016.
Germany – Munich: Tuesday, June 15, 8pm
Hungary – Budapest, Russia: Saturday, June 19, 2pm
Portugal – Budapest: Tuesday, June 23, 8pm
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
France made hard work of qualifying from Group H where took 25 points (eight wins, one draw, one defeat), scoring 25 goals an average of 2.5 per game whilst conceding just six. Turkey proved difficult opponents and Didier Deschamps’ side came unstuck away in a 2-0 defeat when they failed to register a single shot on target.
In the return game in Paris they showed defensive frailty against a pacy Turkish attack in a 1-1 draw. Their top scorer was Olivier Giroud with six, followed by Kylian Mbappe, Kingsley Coman and Antoine Griezmann all with three.
Didier Deschamps took charge of France in 2012 after Laurent Blanc’s departure. As a player he represented France 103 times, winning captaining the World Cup and European Championship winning sides of 1998 and 2000.
As national team manager he has a 65.8 per cent win ratio from 111 games and an extended contract to 2022 means he’s likely to oversee France at the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Prior to taking the France job, Deschamps was at the likes of Monaco, Juventus and Marseille with a winning record of 60.6 per cent from 414 games.
France play a 4-3-2-1/4-4-2 hybrid formation that has served them well over the years. It all starts from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris who has had a mixed season with Tottenham, but his experience will be invaluable. There’s a strong defensive four with plenty of cover in the full-back areas with Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe and Lucas Digne likely to form the back line. In midfield Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Adrien Rabiot will play as a three with licence to get forward at times to support the attack.
Then we’d expect to see Griezmann and Mbappe to be playing off Giroud or the recalled Real Madrid star Karim Benzema up front.
Kylian Mbappe. He needs no introduction, being one of the best young prospects in world football. The 22-year-old was named World Cup Young Player of the Tournament in 2018 and his game has come on leaps and bounds over the past few years to become a real focal point for PSG.
His pace, flair and unpredictability make him one of the most feared attackers in world football and it was clear from his time at Monaco he would go onto bigger heights. Mbappe’s Champions League hat-trick against Barcelona was one of the best seen by a visiting striker at the Nou Camp and he could have scored more.
ONE TO WATCH
N’Golo Kante. The midfield dynamo who is back to his best at Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel. His energy and ability to break the play down by making key interceptions has helped Chelsea break quickly on the counter-attack. With a Champions League medal to with two Premier League crowns, a lot of Kante’s work still seems to go under the radar, but if he has a stellar tournament expect France to be challenging in the latter stages.
Here’s all the key data on France’s squad.
- Squads and statistics correct at time of data sheet creation.
France have been drawn in the group of death. They play Portugal and Hungary in Budapest followed by a trip to Munich to face Germany. The world champions would be disappointed to not reach the final given the average age of their squad is 27.9, and may be due some transition after the 2022 World Cup.
If France are to win the tournament you would have to say Griezmann for UEFA Best Player of the Tournament looks a bet. He was named in the World Cup 2018 Team of the Tournament and seems to flourish when playing for Les Blues.
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