EURO 2020 The Contenders- France

The World Champions enter the Euros as one of the favorites. After a disappointing loss to Portugal in the 2016 Finals, the French would be looking to go one step further and lift the trophy this time around. But French football has come a long way since that loss, winning the World Cup convincingly in 2018. It is said retaining a trophy is difficult but winning the Euros after the World Cup is no mean feat and only two teams in history that have been able to achieve this feat.

WHAT’S THE TEAM??

France’s 26 man Squad for the Euros

France has retained the core of their World Cup-winning squad from three years ago. So what could they do to make such a side even more lethal? Maybe the return of one of the top strikers of Europe after five and a half years. Yes, Didier Deschamps has recalled Karim Benzema back after a lengthy stint on the sidelines. Backup for him presents itself in Olivier Giroud, who is just six goals away from becoming the French top-scorer. Also in the attack are Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, the Barcelona duo is expected to provide the injection of pace to the side and then there is Kylian Mbappe. The 22-year-old livewire is expected to light up the Euros and replicate his performances from Russia.

The centre of the field will be controlled by Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante. They will be supported by Adrien Rabiot (Juventus) and Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich) . Raphael Varane and Clement Lenglet will take charge of the heart of the defence while Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez are expected to start in the full-back positions. National captain Hugo Lloris will be between the sticks. Les Bleus have great depth in defence with many world-class players in the squad namely Champions League winner Kurt Zouma and Lucas Digne of Everton. Not many notable absentees in the 26 man squad except Camavinga and Upamencano who were unlucky not to make the final cut.

THE MANAGER AND HIS TACTICS

Didier Deschamps has done wonders with this French team since taking charge. They have dominated International football for over half a decade now and apart from not reaching the UEFA Nations League final, they have been a class apart. Deschamps has instilled the ruthless scoring mentality which has made his side even more lethal. During the 2018 World Cup Deschamps preferred the 4-2-3-1 formation with Matuidi an integral part of it but now with him gone and Big Benz back in the mix it remains to be seen whether he switches to the 4-3-3. The team shape could largely depend on who starts up top with Benzema nursing an injury from the round of Friendlies.

Deschamps is looking to become the first French manager to win the World Cup and Euros back to back

WHAT TO EXPECT?

France has been placed in the group of death with Germany, Portugal, and Hungary but they are still the favourites to make it out of the group, and that too with the top spot. They start their campaign against Germany in Munich after which they play Hungary in Budapest. They cap off their group stage by facing Portugal in a match that could possibly turn out to be a six-pointer. On paper, the French side looks great and anything less than a top-two finish would be a failure.

STAR PLAYER: Karim Benzema is expected to lead from the front as the French chase European glory

YOUNG PLAYER: There is no better young superstar in world football apart from Kylian Mbappe. The PSG forward has become the superstar of French football over the past couple of years

SURPRISE PACKAGE: Marcus Thuram has been lively for Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga and is expected to do the same for the French with his exceptional pace and dribbling skills. Whenever he gets an opportunity he could be a problem for the opposition defenses.

PREDICTION: Les Bleus are expected to at least make the finals if not win the Euros entirely. But in these tournaments, a single act of magic is sometimes enough to send you packing back home. France remains a lethal team that will be difficult to beat as they stake their claim for the most prestigious prize in Europe.

It remains to be seen if the France can replicate the Golden generation from 1998 and 2000 and become only the fourth team to hold the Euros and the World Cup at the same time. Apart from this for the players the Euros will also be an audition for the World Cup in just more than a year’s time………

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