France

FIFA ranking: 7

How they qualified: Finished top of UEFA qualifying group A

World Cup appearances: 14

Best result: Winners (1998)

Background

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France has never lacked top class talent such as Michel Platini, Didier Deschamps, Laurent Blanc, Marcel Desailly, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and most recently Antoine Griezmann, so it is surprising that Les Bleus have only won one World Cup. The two-time European championships winners qualified for Russia 2018 by topping their European qualifying group A, only losing one game on the way.

The Coach

Didier Deschamps

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A World Cup winner as a player, having captained France to glory in 1998, Deschamps has coached Les Bleus since 2012. The former Monaco, Juventus and Marseille boss guided his team to top spot in European qualifying group A, where they finished ahead of Sweden and the Netherlands.

Star Man

Antoine Griezmann

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The France forward will be out to make his mark on another major competition, having been top scorer and player of the tournament at Euro 2016. Griezmann provided four goals and four assists for Les Bleus in the Russia 2018 qualifiers and is currently regarded as one of the world’s best players.

Starting XI

 

World Cup Chances

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In a group with Australia, Peru and Denmark, many fans would believe that France will have an easy route to the knockout stages. Looking at the squad at Deschamps’ disposal, few would argue. With multiple talented players in each position, France could realistically have three or four different starting XIs. With world-class goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris between the sticks, long-time Manchester United target Djibril Sidibé, centre-backs Raphaël Varane, Laurent Koscielny and Samuel Umtiti, midfielders Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté, Blaise Matuidi and attackers Thomas Lemar, Kylian Mbappé, Anthony Martial and of course Antoine Griezmann, it is easy to see why many Les Bleus fans are optimistic this summer. If they can turn their Euro 2016 heartbreak into a valuable lesson, France will be the team to beat this summer.

Transfer Watch

Antoine Griezmann

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The France talisman has been linked with top clubs from all the major leagues for what seems like ages now. The 27-year-old has been most heavily linked with the two Manchester clubs, but he has recently been linked with Barcelona. But Real Madrid are set to steal a march on their arch-nemesis by signing the 27-year-old, much to the fury of Atletico fans. That is according to Diario Gol, who also go on to report that Griezmann has always been a Real fan. If Griezmann continues his great form at this summer’s World Cup, will this be the final push for some of the top dogs to finally sign Griezmann?