Tuesday, January 19, 2021

France World Cup Preview | Group C

France are one of the favourites to win the tournament after narrowly missing out on the 2016 European Championship, losing 1-0 in extra time to Portugal and will want to win a second World Cup. Les Bleus qualified top of their group, losing just one game to a 94th minute winner against Sweden as they secured their World Cup spot ahead of three-time runners up Holland.

France Squad Outlook

Alphonse Areola, Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Lucas Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Benjamin Mendy, Benjamin Pavard, Adil Rami, Djibril Sidibe, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Steven N’Zonzi, Paul Pogba, Corentin Tolisso, Ousmane Dembele, Nabil Fekir, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Thomas Lemar, Kylian Mbappe, Florian Thauvin

Squad Talk:

As his match-winning display in the Europa League Final for Atletico Madrid confirmed, Antoine Griezmann is clearly France’s best player. The 27-year-old won the golden boot at Euro 2016 and will be looking to add a World Cup one to his collection, currently sitting third favourite to collect the honour behind Lionel Messi and Neymar with SkyBet.

Providing Griezmann with the service he needs will be the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba. They make up three of the top five most expensive transfers in football history and will be looking to prove why on the biggest stage of them all.

At the back, Tottenham skipper Hugo Lloris will be a force to be reckoned with in between the sticks and Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti will be keen to continue the good form which has interested the likes of Manchester United this season.

France’s one to watch will be Florian Thauvin – should he be able to displace the likes of Dembele and Mbappe. The Marseille winger was a flop in the Premier League with Newcastle United but has been a revelation since returning to France, finishing this year’s Ligue 1 season as the second-highest scorer behind Edinson Cavani and displacing the likes of Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette in the national side.

Their worst player is probably Adil Rami by proxy. The 32-year-old is currently dating Pamela Anderson and, has likely only made the squad due to Laurent Koscielny’s horrific Achilles injury as well as somehow keeping out Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City’s record £57million pound transfer who bizarrely is yet to be capped at senior level for France. Rami is far from a bad player but in a very strong French squad he is perhaps their worst.

King of the Country

France’s most famous player is a difficult one with the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Michel Platini and Eric Cantona amongst their past heroes but I think it has to be Zinedine Zidane.

Although his international career ended in headbutt shame, Zidane was an elite playmaker, leader and integral part of Real Madrid’s “Galactico’s”, winning the World Cup, the European Championship, the Champions League and the Ballon D’or in his illustrious playing career with his massive levels of success translating to his current managerial stint with Real where he has won three Champions Leagues back-to-back.

Who’s the Gaffa

Didier Deschamps will be in charge of the national team for his third major tournament. The 49-year-old French boss enjoyed an illustrious playing career with the likes of Marseille and Juventus and also won the World Cup and European Championship alongside Zidane. Deschamps had spells in the dugout with Monaco, Juventus and Marseille before being given the national job in 2012 after Euro 2012, leading his team to the Euro 2014 final.

Editors Opinion

Likely finish in the group: 1st

Likely overall finish: Final

France have such a strong squad in virtually every position and, as one of the favourites, are my pick to go all the way to the final.

Lazy Fan Fact: 
Their squad’s average age is only 26, making it their youngest squad at a major competition in the last 20 years.

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