Reigning World Cup champions France head into this summer’s tournament as one of the leading favourites.
Not a lot has changed in terms of personnel since the World Cup, with players like Kylian Mbappe only getting better in the mean time. Striker remained a question mark until a couple of weeks ago when Karim Benzema was a surprise recall after not featuring for Les Blues since 2015. His best season to date at Madrid made him too difficult to exclude. Placed in what is being dubbed the ‘group of death’ along with France and Portugal, France remain favourites to progress into the knockout stages and maybe could go all the way.
Group F: FRANCE, Germany, Portugal, Hungary
Manager: Didier Deschamps
Odds (PP): 5/1
Recent Tournaments: World Cup 2018 (winners), Euro 2016 (runners-up)
FIFA World Ranking: 2nd
Ngolo Kante. After a difficult few years since the World Cup, where he was played out of position at Chelsea, Kante is back to his very best since Tuchel’s arrival at Stamford Bridge. He is now back to his World Cup winning form and is the best in the World in his position. His performance in the Champions League final, aswell as in both legs against Madrid in the semi-final was truly world class. If he can replicate this form onto the International scene the France have a serious chance of lifting the Henri Delauney Trophy at Wembley on July 11th.
Didier Deschamps has named his 26-man squad, which includes many of the same names who lifted the World Cup three years ago.
Hugo Lloris is named and should start in goals, despite a shaky couple of seasons at Spurs. Joining him in the goalkeeping department are veteran Marseille captain Steve Mandanda, and Lille’s Mike Maignan, who last week joined AC Milan ahead of next season.
The defence is very similar to 2018, except for Samuel Umtiti who is replaced by clubmate Clement Lenglet after losing his way at Barcelona. Lenglet will battle with Presnel Kimpembe to start at left centre half alongside Raphael Varane. Leipzig’s Bayern-bound defender Dayot Upamecano was a surprise omission after a strong season, many feel he is worthy of a start over a declining Varane. Included instead is Kurt Zouma, despite not being a regular starter at Chelsea. Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, who is being monitored by many top clubs including Man United, is selected after two excellent seasons in Spain.
Everton’s Luca Digne makes the squad after Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy was ruled out through injury after a fantastic season. 2018 full-back duo Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez are named and expected to start again.
The midfield also sees little change, with Adrien Rabiot replacing Blaise Matuidi, who’s best days are behind him and now plays in the MLS with David Beckham’s Inter Miami. Corentin Tolisso makes the squad despite featuring very little at Bayern this year. His career has stalled since his big money move from Lyon to Munich and his selection shows the lack of depth in the French midfield, as does the inclusion of Moussa Sissoko who has not played much in an injury hit season at Spurs.
In attack the magnificent Kylian Mbappe will link up with Antoine Griezmann, who finally seems to have found his feet at Barcelona after initially struggling.
Karim Benzema should lead the line, playing the role Giroud did in 2018. Giroud himself is included despite very limited playing time at Chelsea this season.
Monchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram and Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder are included after strong club campaigns.
Wide men Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele and Thomas Lemar are also selected.
One to Watch
Marcus Thuram. There are not many young promising players in the squad as Deschamps has opted for the tried and tested but Thuram, son of former defender Lilian, earned himself a call up.
With 11 goals and 12 assists for Monchengladbach this season. A strong powerful forward who can play centrally or wide, he can finish well of both feet and could make an impact of France’s bench this summer.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mike Maignan (Lille)
Defenders: Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Leo Dubois (France), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Lucas Digne (Everton), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea), Jules Kounde (Sevilla)
Midfielders: N’golo Kante (Chelsea), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Paris Saint-Germain), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain, Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)