Coach: Didier Deschamps
Colours: Blue shirts, blue shorts, red socks
v Romania (10 June, Saint-Denis)
v Albania (15 June, Marseille)
v Switzerland (19 June, Lille)
Winners (1984, 2000)
Semi-finals (1960, 1996)
Quarter-finals (2004, 2012)
When it comes to the European Championships, few boast a better record than France. Les Bleus have qualified for the last seven installments of the competition and have lifted the Henri Delaunay Trophy on two separate occasions.
France won their first ‘Euros’ on home soil in 1984, when an incredible nine-goal haul from Michel Platini helped his side advance to the final in Paris, before a golden goal from David Trezeguet secured a second European triumph for the French in 2000.
With the 15th edition of the tournament once again being held in France, Didier Deschamps’ men are now expected to improve on their quarter-final finish of four years ago and subsequently ensure a third European coronation.
How They Got There
Due to their status as tournament hosts, France qualified automatically and were not involved in the qualification process. They, however, have partaken in numerous high-profile friendlies in the same period as preparation ensues. Victories over Portugal and world-champions Germany remain the highlights of the country’s pre-tournament preparations.
An abundance of injuries in defence and the absence of a certain Karim Benzema might have dented France’s hopes, however, the current squad still harbours a plethora of players capable of leading their nation’s title challenge.
Hugo Lloris has been the French captain since 2010 due to his splendid performances and a stellar attitude. The goalkeeper might not get the headlines he deserves this summer but will surely become an even more integral part of France’s team with a much-changed back four, that is likely to include Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Essiam Mangala and Patrice Evra, ahead of him.
Paul Pogba is a key component of both France and Juventus’ midfield. The former Manchester United man’s technical ability, which has only improved in the past few seasons, and power allows Deschamps to play just three in midfield without being overrun by opposition with a numerical advantage. The sight of N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi alongside Pogba will surely strike fear into Europe’s elite.
The aforementioned absence of Benzema means Olivier Giroud is set to start up front but it is forwards Antoine Griezmann and Anthony Martial, who both start wide of the main striker for their country, that are expected to steal the show. Antoine Griezmann only recently joined his countrymen for training due to commitments with Atletico Madrid and, barring the Champions League final defeat to rivals Real, the forward enjoyed a prosperous season in Spain having netted 32 times.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Olympique de Marseille), Benoit Costil (Stade Rennais)
Defenders: Samuel Umtiti (Olympique Lyonnais), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Adil Rami (Sevilla), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Lucas Digne (AS Roma), Christophe Jallet (Olympique Lyonnais)
Midfielders: Paul Pogba (Juventus), Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), N’Golo Kante (Leicester City), Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United)
Forwards: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Dimitri Payet (West Ham United), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Andre-Pierre Gignac (UANL Tigres)