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Opinion

Euro 2020 preview: France to take flight?

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7th June, 2021
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France are the current World Cup champions and will be looking to add the Euro trophy to their recent list of accomplishments. They are one of the favourites to win this trophy and, when you view their star-studded squad, you can see why.

Coach Didier Deschamps could pick two squads with the amount of talent France have, here are the players that weren’t selected for this tournament – plus some substitues.

Illan Meslier, Theo Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate, Ferland Mendy, Eduardo Camavinga, Tanguy Ndombele, Houssem Aouar, Jonathan Ikone, Alexandre Lacazette, Anthony Martial

Substitutes: Alphonse Areola, Nordi Mukiele, Wesley Fofana, Maxence Lacroix, Boubakary Soumare, Christopher Nkunku, Florian Thauvin, Allan Saint-Maximin, Alassane Plea.

Every major tournament has a ‘Group of Death’ – France were one of the unlucky teams to draw the short straw. Besides the French; Germany, Portugual and Hungary are the chosen few in Group F.

Hungary won’t prove too much of a challenge, but realistically France could finish anywhere between first and third in this group. Being in the harder section of the overall draw, they could face Croatia, England, Turkey or Russia in the next round. If France is to win the tournament, they will be doing it the hard way.

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They have by far the best attacking front three in the tournament. Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann have left plenty of pundits and fans salivating at what they could potentially achieve, but having the best attack on paper doesn’t always translate to winning things.

Almost 20 years ago, a Les Blues team that featured an attacking trident of Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet and Djibril Cisse weren’t good enough to get France out of the group stage at the 2002 World Cup.

If any of the attackers are struggling, Deschamps can turn to his bench and find any one of Wissam Ben Yedder, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud and Marcus Thuram – all of whom are more than capable of filling their shoes. Speaking of Karim Benzema, his return to the national team has left many people conflicted.

He has been absent for several years due to the fallout of an off-field scandal. His form in the past few seasons has been hard to ignore and Deschamps has done the unthinkable – selecting him in the squad.

Trying to pinpoint a weakness in this French team is difficult to do, but it could be the goalkeeper and centre backs.

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Hugo Loris is the first choice shot stopper for France; but appears to be in decline as father time catches up with him – he’s made uncharacteristic errors for his club side this season. Mike Maignan is his deputy and the Lille man will be pushing to take his jersey.

Raphael Varane is a world-class defender but his likely partner, Paris Saint-Germain’s Presnel Kimpembe, is still growing into his role as one half of this French pairing.

There is good depth on the bench with Sevillas Jules Kounde likely to step up if either player has a bad game. This could be the tournament that cements Kounde as one of the game’s best upcoming centrebacks, a transfer tussle with Europe’s elite will happen this off season for his coveted signature

This is also a big tournament for the enigmatic Paul Pogba. He is one of the most maligned players in the world, who struggles with his club side but looks a world beater for his national team.

His contract with Manchester United is almost done and these championships could be the springboard to a new team. Pogba’s game will be assisted by the world’s best defensive midfielder, the Energiser bunny known as N’golo Kante

France has a team that could well win this tournament, anything less than a semi final berth will be classed as failure.

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