France come into Euro 2020 as the reigning world champions and one of the teams to beat across the summer. With young stars and experienced heads aplenty in the squad they are fancied by many to add a European Championship trophy to their current haul, but can they really do it?
France Euro 2020: Strengths
It actually came as little surprise to many when France lifted the World Cup in Russia two years ago such is the strength in depth they have in this squad. Indeed, given that players such as Aymeric Laporte, who moved to Manchester City for an eye-watering fee of £57 million two years ago, are yet to make their international debuts for France, indicates the embarrassment of riches that manager Didier Deschamps has at his disposal.
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Players such as Clément Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti of Barcelona, as well as Real Madrid’s Raphaël Varane are above Laporte in the pecking order and yet despite this, it’s in the attacking area of the pitch where les Bleus’ real strength lies. In Kylian Mbappe, they possess one of the world’s biggest superstars, who truly announced himself on the biggest stage of all with four goals, including one in the final, in Russia two years ago. He will link up with the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kingsley Coman to make up one of the most threatening forward line in the business, packed with pace and skill in abundance.
Although Paul Pogba’s season with Manchester United has been largely forgettable, partly due to injuries but also through a lack of form and a mooted move away from the club, his performances in Russia should not be forgotten. He’ll be a lynchpin for this side in the middle of the park and when he’s in the mood, he can be a real leader. He’ll look to form a partnership with the effervescent N’Golo Kanté in the centre of the park and the two players compliment each other well. Corentin Tolisso, of Bayern Munich, provides another very handy option in this area whilst Tanguy N’dombele of Tottenham will hope to return to full fitness in time for the tournament too.
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Euro 2020 Players to watch: France
What can be said about the enigma that is Paul Pogba that hasn’t been said already? Brilliant on his day, Pogba often attracts criticism for a myriad of reasons and it’s fair to say that this season has been something of a write-off for the Manchester United man. Injuries, a reported fall-out with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, below-par performances in the handful of appearances he has managed to make, Pogba appears set to finally exit Old Trafford this summer and perhaps French supporters will hope that can bring some vigour and consistency back to his displays. A dominating physical presence, Pogba has everything required of a world class midfielder in his arsenal, and we saw this at times during the last World Cup where he was one of the key performers for les Bleus on their way to winning the title. If he’s in a similar mood this summer, then expect him to be one of the stand-out midfielders of the tournament. If he isn’t, then in a squad that’s filled with world class performers, he could find himself quickly out of the starting eleven.
Few defenders in world football command the same respect as Raphaël Varane, who has been captaining the French national side of late whilst Hugo Lloris missed out on recent qualifiers and friendlies through injury. Despite being only 26, he’s already amassed no fewer than 18 medals in his playing career through his success not just with Real Madrid but also with his country and he’ll hope to add another this summer. Like several other members of the squad, Varane appeared to step his game up yet further at the World Cup two years ago to become recognised as a truly world class player and with 64 caps to his name, he is now one of the more experienced members of this Bleus camp to boot. Although his strength and pace make him a worthy adversary of any forward, he is equally comfortable with the ball at his feet, starting attacks from the back for his talented team-mates to capitalise upon.
With Cristiano Ronaldo now at the ripe old age of 35, Kylian Mbappé may come into this tournament with more expectation on his shoulders than anyone. Despite being just 21 years old, Mbappé has already won a raft of trophies with Monaco, PSG and France, as well as individually, and was the superstar of the World Cup win in Russia two years ago, in particular in the Round of 16 win over Argentina in which he scored twice to outshine Lionel Messi. The Paris-born forward has combined blistering pace, a plethora of tricks, deadly finishing and supremely intelligent movement to become one of the biggest names in world football within just four years of making his Ligue 1 debut and given how coolly he appears to have taken all of this in his stride so far, don’t expect the weight of expectation to lie too heavy on his shoulders this summer.
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France Euro 2020 Squad: Weaknesses
Much like their 1998 World Cup winning squad, France’s Class of 2018 appeared to lack the finishing touch of a world class centre-forward. Olivier Giroud did well to bring the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann into play, but he failed to register a single shot on target throughout the tournament, with his performances drawing comparisons with Stéphane Guivarc’h from France’s previous World Cup winning vintage. It’s fair to say that the likes of Anthony Martial, Nabil Fekir and Thomas Lemar have not quite progressed as hopes over the last few years, the latter failing to score a single goal in 18 La Liga appearances so far this season for Atletico Madrid at the time of writing, so France may not have quite the same strength in depth in the attacking areas as they did in 2018 – even if those players that are expected to start, if fit, are of the highest possible quality. The reality however is that this is a supremely talented squad, with very few weaknesses of note.
France Euro 2020 Squad: Who could miss out?
Although he’s now back to full fitness and performing well for Manchester City as arguably the second best centre-back in the Premier League, Laporte has lots of work to do if he wants to make Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2020. The former Athletic Bilbao man is still yet to make his international debut and thus hasn’t had much chance to impress his manager, whilst in players like Clément Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti and Raphaël Varane he has some quality, experienced rivals for his position. Most teams in the tournament would give anything for a defender of Laporte’s strength, positional awareness and ball-playing ability but instead the 25 year old may not be able to force his way into the French squad even as a back-up option.
Thomas Lemar has not been able to build on the reputation he earned from some blistering displays with AS Monaco in the 2016/2017 campaign in particular. The pacey winger, who is a terrific talent on his day, has severely struggled for form since moving to Atletico Madrid at the beginning of the 2018/2019 campaign, scoring just three times in 49 La Liga appearances at the time of writing. Having been touted for a move away from the Wanda Metropolitana, Lemar’s position in the squad is surely under threat if the likes of Florian Thauvin, Anthony Martial and Alassane Pléa can put in some improved performances in the latter stages of their respective club campaigns. With 22 caps, Lemar is more experienced on the international scene than all of those positional rivals, but a lack of form may see him drop down the pecking order now.
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Predicted France Euro 2020 Squad with odds:
As soon as the odds for the France squad become available, they will be posted here.
Our Euro 2020 Predictions for this France Euro 2020 squad
Finishing spot: Winners
It is often said that winning breeds confidence so for a French squad that has already won the biggest prize in international football, expectations and confidence must be sky-high going into this tournament. It’s not hard to see why. In every position, les Bleus possess born winners and world class talent. There are other, strong competitors of course – not least the likes of England, Germany and a vastly improved Netherlands side – but there are bigger weaknesses in all three of those squads than there are in this French outfit. Despite success in Russia, question marks remain over Didier Deschamps’ pragmatic style, but the 51 year old will no doubt feel that if his side can keep hold of their rigid defensive shape, then the individual quality of superstars like Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann can fire them to yet more glory as they hope to be the side celebrating with the trophy at Wembley come July.