In our France Preview: World Cup 2018, we share our analysis about this France team who are one of the favorites to win the tournament in Russia.
France Preview: World Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: Alphone Areola, Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Benjamin Pavard, Benjamin Mendy, Djibril Sidibe, Adil Rami, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane
Midfielders: Blaise Matuidi, N’Golo Kante, Steven N’Zonzi, Paul Pogba, Corentin Tolisso
Forwards: Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Nabil Fekir, Florian Thauvin, Ousmane Dembele
- Manager: Didier Deschamps
- Captain: Hugo Lloris
- Best Finish: Winners (1998)
Likely starting lineup
For a long time now football fans in general, not just the French population, have been excited about what France have the potential to do at this summer’s World Cup.
Not a month has gone by without someone putting together a mockup squad showing the incredible players who could make up Deschamps final 23 and the overall depth the nation has. Since that was confirmed, XIs of players that haven’t been selected, including the likes of Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette, have also been assembled.
But now it’s down to the 23 men selected to show why France are considered as thoroughbred challengers for this World Cup, 20 years on from when they memorably clinched the prize on home soil.
They’ve come close since, inspired and eventually inhibited by Zinedine Zidane in 2006, but this group appears to be the most equipped since 1998 to go all the way. Aside from some weakness at full-back and an out-of-form goalkeeper, France have world-class talent in all areas. Deschamps has some desirable but difficult decisions to make.
In midfield the position of Paul Pogba is under scrutiny after a difficult season and some uneven recent displays. Nabil Fekir, Corentin Tolisso and Steven N’Zonzi would all be sound replacements for him, though.
It’s up top where France really have the potency to hurt teams. Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe will start; from there Deschamps could opt for the power of Olivier Giroud, the searing speed of Ousmane Dembele or the guile of either Thomas Lemar or Florian Thauvin.
This France side is unlikely to control matches in the manner we’ll see Spain or Germany do at this tournament, and they do arguably lack a calming figure at the nexus of their side. We’ll likely see them play in waves, albeit waves that no team in the competition will be able to cope with when they’re crashing against a defensive setup.
The challenge for Deschamps is to ensure those surges are frequent and prolonged. If he can do that, then France might well just win this thing.
Key Man – Antoine Griezmann
Two years ago Griezmann had a bittersweet tournament for France. At Euro 2016, his goals were vital in France making it to the final of the competition, although he missed chances in the final that were ultimately costly against Portugal.
The Atletico forward was in sensational form in the buildup to that competition and carried his sharpness into the tournament. He may be playing even better at this moment in time.
Griezmann has matured as a player in the last two years. He’s now adept at fulfilling numerous different roles for club and country; the 27-year-old can lead the line intelligently, can play off a centre-forward and can operate as a wide forward too.
In the recent Europa League final he also showed he can be decisive on the big stage and on the grandest platform in football in the coming weeks, that steely mentality will be so important.
The worry for Les Bleus fans will be that speculation over Griezmann’s future—he’s been strongly linked with Barcelona—may be something of a distraction. But if he heads to Russia squarely focused on his football, the forward can be the attacking talisman for Deschamps once again.
France’s Group Stage fixtures
Saturday, June 16
Thursday, June 21
Tuesday, June 26
France’s path to the final
If France wins Group C, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group D which will either be Argentina, Iceland, Nigeria or Croatia. If France wins that Round of 16 game, France will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group A (Russia, Uruguay, Egypt or Saudi Arabia) and the team that finishes second in Group B (either Morocco, Iran, Portugal or Spain). If France advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the E1 vs. F2 versus G1 vs. H2 series.
If France finishes second in Group C, France will play the team that finishes first in Group D (either Argentina, Iceland, Nigeria or Croatia). If France wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group B (either Morocco, Iran, Spain or Portugal) and the team that finishes second in Group A (either Russia, Uruguay, Egypt or Saudi Arabia). If France advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the F1 vs. E2 versus H1 vs. G2 series.
France World Cup shirt (home)
When Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Samuel Umtiti and the rest of the team take the field in Russia, they will showcase another tribute to the French flag and French culture.
Subtle details celebrate the country. The one button on the collar is embossed with the motto “Liberte. Egalite. Fraternite.” Inside the collar is a badge that reads ” Nos Differences Nous Unissent” (Our Differences Unite Us.) A tricolor strip is on the back of the neck.
France World Cup shirt (away)
From a distance the jersey appears white, but a closer look reveals red and blue bits of yarn woven throughout. ” Nos Differences Nous Unissent” (Our Differences Unite Us.) A tricolor strip is on the back of the neck.
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