France

The narrowly-beaten finalists from Euro 2016, France will be looking to go all the way in Russia this summer, and with a frighteningly deep and talented squad, they have to be considered as serious contenders to be crowned champions. With that being said, they were pushed all the way by Sweden in the qualifying stage, requiring a win in their final game against Belarus at the Stade de France to be sure of a place in the finals.

Drawn in a group with Australia, Peru and Denmark, France’s route to the knockout stages is by no means a walk in the park. However, the team that sailed to the final of the last European Championship has further developed and matured in the last two years, in addition to being bolstered by new blood. Coach Didier Deschamps finds himself in a position where he is faced with almost too much choice as to who to select for the starting eleven. If he can find a team that works together successfully, then he can utilise the squad depth to ensure France progress into the further reaches of the tournament while constantly remaining fresh and dangerous.

Star Players

  • Antoine Griezmann (Athletico Madrid) – One of the most talented strikers in world football, Griezmann has been pursued relentlessly by the major European clubs for the last number of years, and for good reason; he has once again had an outstanding season for Athletico, scoring 26 goals in 45 appearances so far, and orchestrating nearly every chance created for the team. Although a serious goal threat by himself, should Deschamps decide to play him alongside youngster Kylian Mbappe in Russia, France would have the ability to devastate opposition defences, and may well tally up a significant amount of goals during the competition.
  • Paul Pogba (Manchester United) – The most expensive midfielder in the world when he was bought by Manchester United from Juventus for the sum of £89 million back in 2016, Pogba has had a difficult season under Mourinho. There is no denying that he has the potential to be a world star, but has so far fallen short of that status. Whatever doubts there are over his future at Manchester United must be put aside this summer, and he needs to focus on being his best self to help his country succeed. He should be able to take confidence in the fact that Deschamps seems to know that Pogba’s most effective position is as an attacking midfielder, and should he be given licence to get forward freely, then he can be a crucial player for France at the finals

Coach

Didier Deschamps – Former French captain and winner of the 1998 World Cup and 2000 Euros, Deschamps knows the mentality needed to win major tournaments. Taking over a French team with enormous future potential in 2012, Deschamps has developed that potential into a no-nonsense team that are contenders for the title this summer. With the vast pool of talent at his disposal, it will be interesting to who he puts his faith in.

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