Ahead of this summer’s European Championship, Sports Mole gives an outlook on the chances of France striving to do one better than their unsuccessful venture in 2016.
Looking for a third European Championship trophy on their glittering selection of international silverware, early favorites France are preparing to battle their continental enemies for the eighth year in a row this summer.
Five years later it does was a thorn in their side in the 2016 final against Portugal, the runner-up in that tournament is more desperate than ever to get even better this time and their performance at Russia 2018 suggests that they can do just that.
Didier Deschamps mastered Les Bleus’ run to the World Cup final three years ago and lifted the famous trophy after a devastating final victory against Croatia, and the former central point in midfield has a first European Championship triumph for France firmly in his sights since 2000.
The French coach led Les Bleus to European Championship glory this year – two points after leading his country to World Cup success – and the success for France this summer would see them catch up with Spain and Germany, respectively cite three titles.
Here, Sports mole offers an in-depth assessment of France’s chances at the European Championship.
France makes up a quarter of the Euro 2020 Death group, because Deschamps tries to defeat the reigning European champions Portugal and the 2014 world champions Germany on the way to one of the two top positions in Group F.
Les Bleus begin their campaign with a daunting trip to Munich to face Germany on June 15th. Four days later they meet Hungary in the Puskas Arena in Budapest.
In a replay of the 2016 final, France will round out their group stage against Portugal on June 23, and until the final whistle in Group F there will almost certainly be places in the knockout stage.
15th June: France vs. Germany (8 p.m., Allianz Arena, Munich)
June 19th: Hungary vs. France (2 p.m., Puskas Arena, Budapest)
23rd June: Portugal vs. France (8 p.m., Puskas Arena, Budapest)
HOW YOU WERE QUALIFIED
Although France eventually finished first in qualifying group H, France was pushed by the dark horses Turkey, who managed to subtract points from the world champion on both occasions throughout 2019.
Deschamps scored four goals in back-to-back games against Moldova and Iceland to open their qualifying campaign in style, but they were swiftly swept to the top by Turkey, who scored a 2-0 win over Les Bleus thanks to goals from Kaan Ayhan and Cengiz under on the third game day.
However, Turkey would suffer a shock loss to Iceland on Matchday 4, and France would take advantage of previously beating Andorra 4-0 Kingsley Coman‘s brace helped them beat Albania 4-1 at halftime.
This was followed by two wins with two goals conceded against Andorra and Iceland – although they are on one Olivier Giroud Penalty to get over the line against the latter – and Ayhan again proved to be a thorn in Deschamps’ side on matchday eight when he equalized in the 1-1 draw in the 82nd minute.
This stalemate took the wind out of the sails of the French, but they rounded off their qualifying campaign with 2-1 or 2-0 against Moldova and Albania, but their first place in the table in Group H was only confirmed on the last day because Turkey ended up just two points behind the world champion.
France have played exactly as the world champions should since booking their spot at Euro 2020 – apart from a small friendly match against Finland – and with 3-0 successes in a row against Wales and Bulgaria, Deschamps’ team has been perfect for that Tournament warmed up.
Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele They all met against Wales on June 2 and Deschamps picked a similarly strong side six days later for the showdown against Bulgaria, in which Griezmann scored another goal ahead of Olivier Giroud’s brace.
Four years after the showdown in the Euro 2016 final, France got their revenge on Portugal by scooping four points from their two Nations League games, and Les Bleus unsurprisingly led their group and set up a clash with Belgium in the Nations League semi-finals.
The shocking 2-0 friendly defeat by Finland is France’s only defeat since the beginning of 2020 and although Ukraine drew 1-1 in the opening match of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Deschamps’ men rebounded with consecutive wins in Kazakhstan and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Bleus manager surprised some by naming arguably his strongest team for both pre-Euro friendlies, but they have reaped the rewards of a longer break between games and Deschamps was quick to reassure fans that Benzema’s injury on Tuesday night wasn’t serious.
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mike Maignan (LOSC-Lille)
Defender: Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris St. Germain), Jules Kounde (Seville), Clemens Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bavaria), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Midfield player: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Mussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Corentin Tolisso (Bavaria)
Forward: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Kylian Mbappe (Paris), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach)
STAR PLAYER – KYLIAN MBAPPE
With a World Cup medal and countless individual awards, Kylian Mbappe is only just getting started. The 22-year-old was just a teenager when he made France famous in Russia three years ago and traveled to the European Championship to prove himself to potential applicants.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker’s contract situation in the French capital has yet to be resolved and he continues to be linked to a summer transfer to another European superpower in Real Madrid or Liverpool, but it should be France on the international stage Gaining more fame is his only concern right now.
Mbappe joins Les Bleus, who fell back to the Ligue 1 2020-21 golden shoe with 27 goals in 31 league games, and has scored a total of 42 goals in 47 games across all tournaments in the 2020-21 season.
The former Monaco man has already scored 17 goals in 44 games for France – four of those goals came in the triumphant 2018 World Cup – but he has not scored a single goal contribution in any of Qatar’s 2022 qualifiers in March.
MANAGER – DIDIER DESCHAMPS
Didier Deschamps was never without controversy before his nine-year anniversary as a French coach, but the world champion coach already has the tip to repeat his performances in Russia this summer.
The former lynchpin of Marseille, Chelsea and Juventus is the longest-serving coach at Les Bleus and came with a relatively impressive résumé from his early days in management, steering Monaco to the 2004 Champions League final and Marseille to 2010 , on the dugout Ligue 1 title.
Deschamps has seen his French side come out on top in 75 of their 113 appearances, scoring 225 goals, and unsurprisingly, his performances in 2018 resulted in his being named FIFA Best Coach that year .
The 52-year-old only broadened his individual victory in December 2020 when he was voted the world’s best IFFHS national coach, and after suffering a heartache in the final against Portugal at the Euro 2016, he doesn’t need any additional incentive to raise the trophy lift time around.
RECORD OF THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Best finish: Winner (1984, 2000)
With two in Jules Rimet and Henri Delaunay France played a prominent role in creating the European Championship and hosted the first four-team tournament in 1960, but Les Bleus finished fourth on their first try when the Soviet Union marched to the Cup.
A 24-year absence from the European Championship struck France before the 1984 luminaries took center stage when France – which hosted the tournament again – scored two goals in the second half Michel platinum and Bruno Bellone Defeat Spain in the final and get your hands on the coveted prize.
A third place finish in the 1996 edition would precede Les Bleus’ second successful game in the tournament during Euro 2000, and the abolished golden goal rule would prove to be France’s friend and Portugal’s enemy in the semifinals, as Zinedine sent Zidane in the 117 penalty Roger Lemerre‘s team entered the final, where they would face Italy.
Six years before the two teams would renew hostilities in the 2006 World Cup final, Marco Delvecchio would go home to break the deadlock in Rotterdam, however Sylvain Wiltord would equalize in the third minute of stoppage time before the second half David Trezeguet‘s golden goal – and a breathtaking one at that – brought France to a second triumph in the tournament.
A phase of mediocrity would follow, as France could not advance through the quarter-finals until Euro 2016 and despite a game against a Cristiano Ronaldo-without Portugal for much of the final, the forgotten man Eder scored an unforgettable winner in the 109th minute, forcing France to take runners-up medals for the first time.
After Deschamps seamlessly conquered the world just three years ago, Deschamps’ ever-improving harvest should be confident that they can emerge as leaders from the group of death row inmates, allowing them a favorable tie in the round of 16 against one of the third-placed sides.
The possibility that Les Bleus will renew the hostilities with beaten World Cup finalist Croatia and old enemy Portugal en route to the final is very real indeed, but after clearing the final hurdle five years ago we expect that France will follow its supremacy in the world by conquering Europe for the third time in a record high.