Is France still the favorites to win Euro 2020

The French national team nicknamed Les Bleus have established themselves as one of the best teams in International Football under Didier Deschamps and are considered favourites to win every tournament they are a part of. The current squad has lived up to the high standards set by France’s ‘Golden Generation’ of 1998-2006 and are ready to claim the title of being the country’s next Golden Generation. World Cup winners in 2018, the French National team are looking to get their hands on the European Trophy, one they missed out on in 2016. Winning the cup would help them become the joint most successful team in the competition with West Germany and Spain both having won it thrice. This article is going to analyse why the French have a better chance of winning than any other team.

Style of Play

Didier Deschamps, being a midfielder during his time as a professional footballer, has evolved the French team around its midfield. France possesses great technical and physical midfielders which allows them to control the game, irrespective of the ability of their opponents. They play with an unorthodox 4-1-2-1-2 formation, one that is not often seen in modern football. While many teams in modern football choose a 3-man midfield, France’s formation allows them to have 4, playing in a diamond. This means they control the game while stretching the midfield across the length and breadth of the pitch.

N’Golo Kante, football’s most famous smile, plays as the defensive midfielder. His ability to travel up and down the pitch combined with his great defensive skills and stamina makes him crucial to the success of the team. Adrien Rabiot and Manchester United’s star man Paul Pogba are the two central midfielders. Rabiot (6 ft 1 in) and Pogba (6 ft 2 in) are a great physical presence in the midfield due to their heights. They act as the powerhouses in the midfield winning headers and shoving opponents off the ball. Antoine Griezmann plays as the attacking midfielder. He isn’t the strongest or quickest on the field but his great technical ability along with his magical left foot helps him produce wonders for the national team.

N’Golo Kante in training for Les Bleus

Form

France headed into the Euro 2020 qualifiers as finalists in the previous European championship and winners of the World Cup in 2018. They lost only 1 game in the group stage and ended the qualifying round as the group leader. As of 27th May 2021, they rank 2nd in FIFA men’s world rankings. Despite being in the group of death with Portugal, Germany and Hungary, they are unbeaten until now and are at the top of their group. With their final game against Portugal, a draw would be enough to see the French side through to the last 16.

Squad Ability

The French team are one of the most complete and all-round teams in the tournament with only the Englishmen in competition. Regarded as one of the best defenders in today’s date, Raphael Varane is the star man in defence for Les Bleus. His excellent pace with his height of 6 feet and 2 inches makes him hard to get past. Rumoured to be nominated for the 2021 Ballon D’or, N’Golo Kante is always present on the pitch. Paul Pogba, in an interview in 2018, said “Kante, I think he has 15 lungs”. He provides cover for the defence and is the most hardworking player on the pitch. Paul Pogba provides great technical ability in midfield. His quick footwork and ability to play both short and long balls prove to be very beneficial for the team.

Antoine Griezmann is a vital part of the team’s attack. He helps the team by providing both goals and assists. His agility helps him to move into spaces allowing him to create chances as well as take shots from in and around the 18-yard box. Adding to the attack is youngster Kylian Mbappe. He is considered to be the best young player in the game at the moment. He boosts the attack with his exceptional pace and skills. His ability to score is second to none and already has 17 goals for the national side. 

French Team training ahead of their last group game against Portugal

Oliver Giroud is the second highest goalscorer for Les Bleus behind Thierry Henry. His 46 goals for the national team have been extremely beneficial. He has a knack of being in the right position at the right time to score crucial goals. He is a traditional number 9, tall and strong. He looks to attack every ball he gets. He ensures he is always rushing into the box for crosses and takes as many shots at the goal as possible. His height gives him an advantage to score headers as he is always a physical presence in the box.

Adding to the above-mentioned players, Karim Benzema, Presnel Kimpembe, Kingsley Coman and Lucas Digne are all world class players. France certainly has the squad ability and depth to win the Euros. But with a tough last fixture against Portugal and a difficult knockout path to the final, French fans would have to wait and see whether they will get the better of Portugal or are we going to witness 2016 all over again. But in the meantime, Allez Les Bleus!!!

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