Earlier this decade, France seemed to be lost in the shuffle of an unsuccessful generation change. The swan song of their last great generation of players claimed the flattering title of both being World and European champions in 1998 and 2002, but later on they seemed to have lost it – they were unable to go past the group stage in South Africa, and barely managed to do so two years ago on the European Championship. However, coach Dechamps selected some brilliant young players to try and re-light the flame and produce some fantastic results. If this works out, they are expected to shine on EURO 2016 as well. We may have another great generation in the making, and along with Uruguay, France might be the biggest pleasant surprise of this tournament.
The French are likely to shoot for the best possible outcome here – claiming the first place in group stage would mean avoiding the clash with Argentina (hailing from group F), and it would be highly desirable. An easy group draw is making this plausible, if they have some luck on their side.
The following 23 players have been selected to represent their nation:
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Mickael Landreau (Bastia), Stephane Ruffier (Saint-Etienne)
Defenders : Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mathieu Debuschy (Newcastle), Mamado uSakho (Liverpool), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Lucas Digne (PSG)
Midfielders : Franck Ribery (Bayern), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Yohan Cabaye (PSG), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Clement Grenier (Lyon), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Loic Remy (QPR)
The captain of the squad and the most experienced of their goalkeepers, Lloris, is going to be the first choice, and he will only give up his spot to Landreau or Ruffier if he gets injured. France will equally favor experience when it comes to the defenders – the right and the left back Evra and Sagna are sure to start, with Digne and Debuschy on the bench. The defense in the middle will be “cemented” by Premier League players Koscielny and Sakho, and Varane and Mangala will be their substitutes.
Pogba, star of the Serie A, will be the link between the attacking midfielders and Cabaye, the flanks will be covered by Ribery and Matuidi, and the hole by Valbuena. Granier, Griezmann and Sissoko are likely to wait for a chance to play more in the future. Since the French selection has been known to play with only one defender, and Benzema played the best season of them all, the spot will probably go to him.
Expected formation and the starting eleven of France (4-2-3-1): Lloris–Evra, Sakho, Koscielny, Sagna – Pogba,Cabaye – Ribery, Valbuena, Matuidi– Benzema.