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10 juin 2024

France's Euro 2024 Prospects: A Mix of Continuity and Challenges

France's Euro 2024 Prospects: A Mix of Continuity and Challenges

France's Euro 2024 Prospects: A Mix of Continuity and Challenges

France approaches Euro 2024 as one of the tournament favorites, a status built on recent successes. Despite the retirements of key players Raphaël Varane and Hugo Lloris, Les Bleus boast a strong, familiar squad. The midfield and attack will likely mirror the lineup that reached the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar. With the unexpected return of N’Golo Kanté, now playing in Saudi Arabia, France balances youth and experience.

Qualification and Defensive Concerns

France breezed through qualification, winning all matches except the final one against Greece, where an experimental side was fielded. They conceded only three goals during the campaign, indicating a robust defense. However, questions remain about the backline, especially after Varane’s retirement. Coach Didier Deschamps has yet to settle on a center-back partnership, and the right-back position is still uncertain. Despite these issues, France's defensive strength remains a cornerstone of their strategy.

Coaching Continuity

Didier Deschamps continues as head coach, extending his contract until 2026 despite speculation about a post-World Cup departure. His pragmatic approach, while sometimes seen as unspectacular, has been effective and is emulated by other national teams, notably England under Gareth Southgate. Deschamps’ philosophy prioritizes efficiency and has proven successful, making it the blueprint for sustained success.

Star Player: Kylian Mbappé

Kylian Mbappé, France’s captain and PSG’s all-time top scorer, is the team's standout star. Recently signed by Real Madrid, Mbappé enters the Euros after winning the Ligue 1 Golden Boot for the sixth consecutive year. Skipping PSG’s final Ligue 1 game to attend the Cannes Film Festival, Mbappé's star power extends beyond football. As captain, he aims to lead France to glory in his first major tournament with the armband.

Rising Talent: Bradley Barcola

Bradley Barcola’s inclusion in the squad marks a significant departure from Deschamps’ usual policy of not selecting uncapped players for major tournaments. The 21-year-old winger, bought by PSG for €45m, impressed with his performances at Lyon, earning his place despite being left out in March. His selection underscores his growing importance and potential impact.

The Maverick: Benjamin Pavard

Benjamin Pavard’s last tournament outing in Qatar was marred by off-field issues, but he is back with a point to prove. Deschamps cited Pavard’s poor mental state for his lack of playtime. Now, the 28-year-old defender from Internazionale seeks redemption and aims to make a positive impact in Germany.

Team Spine

Mike Maignan steps into Lloris’s shoes as the new No. 1, while Dayot Upamecano becomes the mainstay of the defense in Lucas Hernández’s absence. Antoine Griezmann, transitioning to a deeper midfield role, is more influential than ever, having missed the March friendlies after a record 84 consecutive international appearances. Up front, Mbappé continues to be the linchpin, edging closer to Olivier Giroud's all-time scoring record for France.

Celebrity Support and Cultural Highlights

President Emmanuel Macron, an avid Marseille fan, passionately supports the national team. His efforts to have Mbappé play in the upcoming Olympics were unsuccessful, but expect to see Macron’s enthusiastic presence in the stands.

On the culinary front, French matchgoing fans enjoy regional delicacies like the Galette Saucisse, a Breton grilled sausage wrapped in a pancake. This Rennes specialty, recently offered to away fans during Milan’s Europa League visit, reflects France's rich culinary tradition.

As France heads to Euro 2024, the blend of established stars, promising talents, and strategic continuity makes them a formidable contender, with a semi-final appearance seen as the minimum expectation.