FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: New-look France seek to establish supremacy
France’s first and only FIFA World Cup triumph came on home soil in 1998. They have seen their share of ups and downs since then but the current side is stacked with talent and will pose a serious threat in Russia.football Updated: Jun 04, 2018 18:14 IST
Head coach: Didier Deschamps
FIFA World Cup history: Qualified 14 times; best – champions in 1998
Squad: Goalkeepers – Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Alphonse Areola; Defenders – Djibril Sidibe, Benjamin Pavard, Adil Rami, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Presnel Kimpembe, Benjamin Mendy, Lucas Hernandez; Midfielders – Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi, Corentin Tolisso, N’Golo Kante, Steven Nzonzi; Forwards – Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Florian Thauvin, Thomas Lemar, Nabil Fekir.
France’s association with the FIFA World Cup has been a long one, but Les Bleues never put in enough consistent performances to be considered a major threat.
They hosted the tournament in 1938 and reached the quarter-finals that year, and even managed a third place finisn in 1958 thanks to the magnificent Just Fontaine.
They next made the semis in 1982 and even managed a third place finish in 1986, a year best remembered for Diego Maradona’s herocics. However, they didn’t qualify in 1990 and 1994.
They were a part of the 1998 World Cup as hosts and went the distance, with current coach Didier Deschamps captaining the side to the first and so far only title triumph.
However, their title defence was far from convincing as they crased out of the group stages itself in 2002, a campaign that included a famous 1-0 loss to Senegal.
They once again made the finals in 2006 but lost a highly-contested final that is more remembered for Zidane’s headbutt of Marco Materazzi than the playmaker’s amazing Panenka penalty to level the game.
They next made it to the knockout stages in 2014 and the current side is stacked with young talent that are going to be hungry to make an impact on the world stage.
Three key players
Paul Pogba – His form for Manchester United has seen several ups and downs but the midfielder is a class act capable of influencing games when he’s at his best. He was awarded the Best Young Player in 2014 and will be keen to establish himself as France’s go-to man.
Kylian Mbappe – The forward who will soon become the second-most expensive signing for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain is considered the hottest young prospect in a league full of them. He’s speedy, skillful and has an eye for goal. What’s even scarier is that he is yet to fulfill his potential.
Antoine Griezmann – The diminutive frontman has been in fine form for Atletico Madrid this season and was even the star as they won the Europa League. His silky style of play and ability to find the back of the net regularly will see him spearhead France’s attack.