Constantly rising from the ashes of their humiliating group stage exit in 2010, France now look strong enough to find themselves amongst the contenders. Runners-up at UEFA EURO 2016, France have indicated what is to be expected from them at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. As a matter of fact, the team looks a shade stronger now, with Kylian Mbappe, N’Golo Kante, and Ousmana Dembele coming up as consistent performers. They enter the tournament as the 7th best team, which coincidentally was where they finished at in 2014, but their recent results have been good enough to consider them amongst the top 4 contenders. Despite being one of the four teams to have participated in the first ever World Cup, France haven’t had enough success with just one title to their name.
France World Cup 2018 Preview
Their current squad is good enough for the entire country to expect the second title from them this time around. EA Sports’ prediction terms them the Champions in Russia already. What makes them do that? Here are their strengths, weaknesses, schedule, and everything else that are good enough to give you the answer.
Their midfield has been crucial in setting up their success in the recent days. While Paul Pogba has been crucial to the frontline, N’Golo Kante has ensured the defense line to get enough support from the midfield. Their next strength lies in their attacking lineup in the form of Dembele and Griezmann. Dembele’s solo show against Italy in their last friendly would have given a nightmare to every defender watching out for him. Griezmann needs no introduction! He has been a consistent finisher for both France and Atletico Madrid. This half of their side will be the key to their success in Russia. Their balanced style of play will be bolted to these few aspects when they take on the heavyweights in the later stages.
An erring defense lineup is what can cause France’s downfall. They have a problem with switching off which makes them vulnerable to counter attacks from the opposition. Another drawback could be Didier Deschamps’ squad selection. The inclusion of Fekir and Thauvin ahead of Lacazette and Martial has drawn criticism for the French coach and if France fails, they surely will be at the center of the concluding blame game. Their recent defeat against Columbia tells a lot about their weak character. Even against Italy, they conceded a goal after scoring two and looked like they’ll end up drawing after being the better side throughout the match. That needs to be rectified at the earliest if Deschamps expects his team to make him a World Cup-winning manager.
Their captain, Hugo Lloris, at the goal will be a key man given their unpredictable defense lineup. Given the absence of Laurent Koscielny, Samuel Umtiti and Adil Rami will shoulder the responsibility of holding their defense together. The next three names will be the key for France in Russia; Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and N’Golo Kante. Ousmana Dembele has come good as well, and if he continues with his hot form, he could be a telling individual in Deschamps’ surprise-23.
FIFA World Cup Record
The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will be France’s 15th appearance at the tournament. They were one of first four European sides that participated in the first-ever World Cup back in 1930. After finishing third at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, France surprisingly failed to qualify for the next two editions. They appeared in the 1998 World Cup as the host nation and yet again surprised everyone, this time positively though, by becoming the champions. That was followed with their worst finish, a first-round exit without scoring a single goal, in 2002. They came back strongly and ended up as runners-up in the memorable 2006 World Cup losing in the final to Italy. 2010 again saw them succumb to their worst ever finish with defeats from Mexico and South Africa and a draw at the hands of Uruguay ensuring they failed to qualify for the next round.
FIFA World Cup Qualification and Recent Form
France was pooled in Group A of the UEFA qualifiers alongside Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, and Belarus. They managed to finish at the top of the table with 23 points from their ten games. Their only defeat came against Sweden away at Solna on 10 June 2017. Post the qualifying campaign; they’ve played friendlies against Wales, Germany, Columbia, Russia, Republic of Ireland, and Italy. They managed to win 4 of them and end up with a 2-2 draw against Germany and a 2-3 defeat against Columbia.
France World Cup Schedule
France has one more friendly scheduled to play before they embark on their FIFA World Cup campaign. They’ll play the USA on 9th June at home before leaving for Russia days later. They have for in Group C alongside Australia, Peru, and Denmark. They’ll first play Australia on 16th June, before playing for Peru on 21st June and Denmark on 26th June.
EA Sports’ prediction of France lifting the World Cup in Russia is not a distant dream but is more of a near possibility. However, considering the strength of other sides in the tournament, a prediction beyond the semi-finals will be a pure bluff. France has been astonishing in the recent past and the side looks to be going well together. Being one of our top contenders, our final prediction calls in for at least a semifinal finish for Les Blues.
Read about Portugal team analysis here.