World Cup holders France head into Euro 2020 as one of the outright favourites. With possibly the strongest squad, a proven and talented manager, and experience all at their disposal, what can be expected from Les Bleus at the tournament? Read on to find out.
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Euro 2020: France key stats
Manager: Didier Deschamps
Key player: Kylian Mbappe
FIFA World Ranking (May 2021): 2nd
Recent performances: Euro 2016 - Runners-up, 2018 World Cup - Winners
Odds to win Group F: 2.400*
Odds to win Euro 2020: 5.340*
Euro 2020: France schedule
All times listed are CEST (Central European Summer Time).
June 15, 21:00: Germany vs. France
June 19, 15:00: Hungary vs. France
June 23, 21:00: France vs. Portugal
Euro 2020: How will France fare in a tough group?
Despite their strengths, there will be some immediate challenges facing Didier Deschamps’ men. France have been drawn in Group F and will face Germany, Portugal, and Hungary – all potentially difficult opponents. To make matters worse, all of their group games will either be played at the Allianz Arena in Munich or the Puskas Arena in Budapest, thereby offering a home advantage to two of their opponents.
France are 5.340* favourites with Pinnacle to win Euro 2020, while Germany are priced at 8.230* and Hungary are 294.040* outsiders. The interesting opponent in this group will be Euro 2016 winners Portugal (9.260*), whose presence means that three of the top six favourites to win Euro 2020 are in this brutally difficult group.
Les Bleus kick off their tournament on June 15 against Germany with a match they are perhaps surprisingly favoured to win at 2.680*. They then travel to Budapest for a double-header, first against Hungary where they are 1.389* to take the three points, and then against Portugal, against whom they are 2.310* to win.
France can be backed at 2.400* to win Group F and are 1.076* to qualify from it. Should they top the group, their Round of 16 match would be played in Bucharest, Romania, while a second-place spot would see them travel to London, potentially to take on fellow outright front-runners England.
Euro 2020: Who is in the France squad?
France have an impressive squad that boasts quality in all areas. In goal, Hugo Lloris is solid and dependable, whilst Mike Maignan and Steve Mandanda are very able deputies. The centre-back pairing of Presnel Kimpembe and Raphael Varane is among the best in the world, and Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard look set to be the starters at full-back, with the likes of Lucas Digne, Kurt Zouma, and Leo Dubois providing further solid defensive options.
Kylian Mbappe is the most significant player in the France attack.
The midfield has class in vast amounts. N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba are virtually guaranteed to start and Thomas Lemar and Adrien Rabiot are reliable alternatives if required.
However, the main area of interest within the France squad has been the return of Karim Benzema. He last played for his national team in 2015, but his scintillating form for Real Madrid this season which featured 30 goals in all competitions basically ensured that it was impossible to ignore him. Benzema will likely get the nod ahead of Olivier Giroud, with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann providing the attacking width. France’s other attacking talents include Ousmane Dembele, Marcus Thuram, and Kingsley Coman.
Mbappe is the big-name star who France will lean on most in attack though. Among Europe’s top five leagues this season, he ranked fourth for goal-creating actions, third for expected goals, sixth for shots on target, and third for attempted dribbles. Still aged just 22, he possesses all-round talent and has demonstrated his ability to win matches by himself.
Euro 2020: Didier Deschamps’ role
France’s manager has serious credentials too. Didier Deschamps is a serial winner who has consistently found a way to deliver silverware both in his playing and managerial career. As a player, he won both the World Cup and European Championships, as well as numerous league titles across Europe, the Champions League, and various other cups.
While his managerial ability has occasionally come under scrutiny and criticism when things have gone wrong, the fact remains that he has won things wherever he’s managed, with a CV featuring trophies won at Monaco, Juventus, Marseille, and of course, France.
Deschamps was appointed France manager in July 2012 and is now nearly a decade into the job. His record in major tournaments for Les Bleus has been excellent and has consistently improved, as they reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, were runners-up at Euro 2016, and then won the 2018 World Cup. Deschamps has managed France for 112 matches, winning 74 and losing just 18. He is known for his great man-management skills and providing a clear tactical direction which he has been willing to adapt over the years.
Euro 2020: What tactics will France use?
On the tactical front, France will almost certainly line up with a four-man defence. Deschamps briefly experimented with three at the back in UEFA Nations League matches last year, but it would presumably take unforeseen injuries or suspensions for him to change from his preferred defensive system.
Antoine Griezmann's versatility could open a spot in the team for Ousmane Dembele.Kante and Pogba are absolute certainties for the starting 11 and both could be paired together in central midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Alternatively, Deschamps could opt for a three-man midfield including someone like Rabiot alongside the pair.
Assuming Benzema starts as the striker, Mbappe and Griezmann will likely operate in the wide areas, probably swapping positions during the match. Griezmann can also be deployed as a false number nine or a playmaking number 10, which may open up space for Dembele in the team if he is used in either role.
France will likely lean on fluid counter-attacks where possible in order to utilise the pace and skill of Mbappe. Don’t expect their approach to be particularly possession-based, as it is in games when the opposition sit back and deploy a rigid defence when France most often struggle.
Euro 2020: Will France meet high expectations?
The prognosis for France in this tournament is obviously excellent. During the 2018 World Cup, they improved as the tournament progressed and also proved themselves in big fixtures. Les Bleus won’t fear any other team and will naturally be a popular choice to lift the trophy.
There appear to be few weak spots in the squad and they have all bases covered. Benzema’s return could lead to an unwanted distraction, but it is more than likely it will work positively and he will be highly motivated to perform.
To win the Euros, teams are required to win four knockout matches, but it’s probably within the group stage where France could be at their most vulnerable. They will face some difficult fixtures, and even the match against Hungary is by no means a guaranteed victory.
However, with up to three teams progressing from Group F, it would be hard to envisage France not featuring in the last 16. They are one of the best teams in the world, so in a one-off knockout fixture, you’d have to consider them favourites to beat virtually any opponent.
On top of that, the last time France won the World Cup back in 1998 they followed it up with an immediate Euros success. With this golden generation at their disposal, there's certainly a massive chance they can repeat that achievement. Betting on the tournament favourites might not be to everyone’s taste, but the sheer ability France can call upon means that even odds of 5.340* could provide good value.
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