Expectation Awaits

As Euro 2016 hosts, France will be under more pressure than most to perform well, and coach Didier Deschamps has had two years in which to prepare Les Bleus since they were knocked out of the World Cup in Brazil by eventual winners Germany at the quarter-final stage.

While Deschamps has had plenty of time to make plans and tinker with his set-up, some will argue that there is no substitute for competitive games, something France have not been able to enjoy.

The draw for the Euro 2016 Finals, however, looks to have dealt the host nation a favourable hand, allotting them in Group A alongside Switzerland, Romania and Albania.

Deschamps could scarcely have asked for a better scenario and the former Juventus midfielder will have his eyes firmly fixed on securing top spot in Group A to kick-start another deep run in the tournament – France have been to at least the last-eight in four of the last five European Championship Finals.

France open the tournament on June 10 against Romania in the Stade de France before moving on to Marseille on June 15 to face Albania and concluding against the Swiss in Lille four days later.

Strong Spine

On paper, Deschamps looks to possess a strong mix of youth and experience.

Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris is a strong presence and would earn his place in most of the 24 competing teams this summer.

In front of Lloris, Bacary Sagna, Patrice Evra and Laurent Koscielny could help form a highly-experienced back four.

In Paul Pogba, the French have one of the most exciting and powerful young midfielders in Europe today. Despite his tender years, Pogba is the heartbeat and driving force of this team, while Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin may occupy the holding role.

Up top, Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud knows how to score goals and he should be ably assisted by the exciting talents of Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann. Anthony Martial has handled the pressure of being the most expensive teenager in football history well since moving to Manchester United and is another exciting string to the French bow.

Home Rule

While they have not been in competitive action since the World Cup, France can count Spain, Portugal and the world champions Germany amongst their friendly victims in preparation for Euro 2016.

Assured of a tidal wave of public support on home soil, the French look set to be a threat to all this summer. When they last hosted a major tournament 18 years ago, they were crowned champions of the world for the one and only time in their history.

France also followed up that success by winning the Euro 2000 Final in Rotterdam where Sylvain Wiltord scored a stoppage time goal to send the game into extra time and David Trezeguet won the day with his famous ‘Golden Goal’ winner against Italy.

They were also European champions back in 1984, and there is little doubt that France have the pedigree and the winning mentality required to go a long way at Euro 2016.


Goalkeepers: Benoit Costil (Rennes), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Roma), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Adil Rami (Sevilla), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Samuel Umtiti (Lyon)

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), N’Golo Kante (Leicester), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle)

Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Dimitri Payet (West Ham)

Team Profile

Number of European Championship Appearances 10
Best European Championship Performance Winners (1984, 2000)
Number of European Championship Titles 2
Qualifying Form N/A (qualified as hosts)
Key Player at Euro 2016 Didier Deschamps – appointed July 2012
Current FIFA Rankings 3
Most Capped Player Hugo Lloris (current), Lilian Thuram (all-time)
Key Player at Euro 2016 Paul Pogba