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Euro 2016 France Preview

A look at the French national football team going into the Euro 2016 with a touch of Football Manager 2016.

By on Jun 10, 2016   7403 views   0 comments
EURO 2016 - Euro 2016 France Preview
France, the hosts of this year's European Championships, will be looking to win the competition for the first time since the year 2000. The French can take encouragement from the fact that the last time the European Championships were hosted by their country, in 1984, Les Bleus were victorious in their pursuit of the title, defeating Spain in the final. France will certainly be looking to win the competition for a third time, and will not have a better chance than now to do so than now.

Drawn in to Group A, as the host nation, France will face Romania in the opening game of the tournament. Alongside Romania, the French will also face Albania and Switzerland in what is considered a group in which France are clear favourites to dominate. Switzerland will certainly prove to be France's toughest challenge, as they boast the likes of Haris Seferović, Breel Embolo, Xherdan Shaqiri and Arsenal new-boy Granit Xhaka. Romania could also prove to be a test if the likes of Gabriel Torke and Vlad Chiricheș are on top form, while Albania captain Lorik Cana will certainly know that his side is up against it. However, France are considerably weaker without Karim Benzema, Raphaël Varane, Aymeric Laporte and Kurt Zouma, among others, all unavailable, but they certainly have the strength-in-depth required to battle for the title.

European Championships History

Les Bleus hosted the first ever European Championships in 1960, finishing in fourth place of the inaugural tournament. France's first European Championships title came when they hosted the competition for the second time, in 1984. Michel Platini and Bruno Bellone scored the goals in the final as France defeated Spain. A semi-final performance in 1996 preceded France's second European Championship title in 2000. Italy were France's opponents in the final that time. The Italian were leading 1-0, courtesy of Marco Delvecchio's goal, with just seconds remaining of injury time before Sylvain Wiltord scored a dramatic late equaliser. The game was brought to extra time and David Trezequet's golden goal proved to be enough for Les Bleus as they defeated the Italians.



Key Players


Tottenham and France captain Hugo Lloris has an important tournament ahead of him. The twenty-nine year old shot-stopper has made 73 appearances for his country to date, and is expected to surpass the centenary mark before too long. Lloris played a key role in Tottenham's success last season, leading his team to an astonishing third place finish in the Barclays Premier League. Lloris' team boasted the joint-best defensive record in the league, conceding just 35 goals over the course of the whole season. Only Manchester United could equal that figure.

Lloris is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in regards to closing down oncoming attackers and dealing with one-on-one situations. Standing at 188cm, Lloris certainly is not the tallest of goalkeepers, but his athletic ability makes him a formidable shot-stopper. Lloris' agility and the speed at which he comes off his line makes him a cat-like goalkeeper and certainly one who provides plenty of confidence for the defenders in front of him. If France are to win their third European Championships, Lloris will need to be on top form.


Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba has become a world class player in recent years and has the opportunity to impress at yet another major tournament for his country. The twenty-three year old has played 31 games for France so far, scoring five goals, and is expected to become a legendary player for his country in the future. Pogba played a key role in each of Juventus' last four seasons, as the Old Lady claimed the Serie A title each time. Named as the European Golden Boy of 2013, Pogba has been touted as football's next leading player, and he will look to leave his mark on yet another international tournament, having been named as the Best Young Player of the 2014 World Cup.

Pogba's style of play draws parallels with that of Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré. However, what Touré lacks in pace, Pogba has in abundance. Pogba's ability on the ball is certainly admirable, and the Frenchman has a knack for scoring breath-taking goals from distance. A remarkable attribute of Pogba's is his ability to win the ball back, which is not a characteristic of many technical midfielders. Juventus' star player will certainly be in the thick of the action for France, and Les Bleus will be relying on him to produce the goods.


With Karim Benzema's absence from the squad, Arsenal's Olivier Giroud will have an important role in France's campaign. The twenty-nine year old target man has played 49 times for his country, and scored 17 goals, including a brace against Scotland in one of France's warm-up games for the competition. Giroud just completed his most prolific goal scoring season for The Gunners, scoring 24 goals in all competitions. In four seasons in the red and white of the London club, Giroud has scored an impressive 82 goals, averaging over 20 goals per season.

Standing at 192cm, Giroud is certainly considered an aerial threat. His ability to hold up the ball makes him an ideal target man for his country, and this attribute will certainly be utilised throughout the tournament. Giroud's link-up play has been praised in recent years, and he posted six assists last season for Arsenal. While Giroud's ability has been questioned in recent times, Deschamps' faith in him has been unwavering and France will need the striker to find his scoring boots if they are to lift the title.


Players To Watch


Manchester United forward Anthony Martial has seen his reputation grow dramatically in the last twelve months. His multi-million move from Monaco to The Red Devils brought the eyes of the world upon him, and scoring on his debut against Liverpool certainly satisfied critics. Martial is yet to score for France, despite playing nine times, but a seventeen goal haul for a blunt Manchester United attack over the course of last season has given plenty of reason for optimism that he will produce the goods this tournament.

Touted as the next Thierry Henry, Anthony Martial can be deployed either out wide or centrally in attack. His pace and power makes him a remarkable athlete, and his movement both on and off the ball proves his intelligence on the pitch. Martial's first goal for Manchester United came through terrific dribbling ability, and he certainly is a difficult challenge to dispossess. This is Martial's opportunity to impress on the big stage, and a couple of goals this summer would certainly make him a front runner to lead the line for José Mourinho's Manchester United next season.


No French player has quite received as much hype in recent months as N'Golo Kanté. The Leicester City midfielder played a key role in The Foxes' Premier League winning campaign. The twenty-four year old burst on to the scene when he signed for Leicester from Caen last summer, and he has not looked back since. An impressive campaign brought Kanté the Premier League title, and he was named in the PFA Team Of The Season. N'Golo's efforts saw him receive international recognition, and has made four appearances for France, scoring once.

N'Golo Kanté is regarded as an all-action midfielder with the ability to contribute in each and every area of the pitch. His mean strength comes in his ball-recovery skills, and his tenacity in the tackle makes him a known threat to opposition attackers. Kanté's work rate takes pressure off his team mates, and his willingness to cover ground makes him a valuable asset. Graeme Souness described Kanté's position as "everywhere on the pitch", giving credit to Kanté's all-action performances. In a midfield stacked with talent, Kanté has a tough challenge to earn game time, but he will certainly be given at least one opportunity throughout the competition.


Teenage sensation Kingsley Coman has risen to stardom in recent seasons following some terrific campaigns playing for PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich. The 19 year old, due to turn 20 on the 13th June, has been a part of four league title winning squad, and also has five cup victories to his name. His trophy haul of nine is already equal to that of Steven Gerrard's, a man who is almost twice his age. On loan at Bayern Munich last season, Coman played 35 times, scoring 6 goals. Internationally, Coman's stock has certainly improved, scoring once in five games for the French senior team.

Coman is a wide attacking player, known for his pace and dribbling ability. In the last few seasons, Coman has shown that he can produce moments of magic out of nowhere, and his ability to beat a man makes him a formidable attacker. The youngster will be looking to build on his exploits of the last few years whenever the opportunity arises for him during international duty, and he certainly has a bright future ahead of him.


The Manager


Didier Deschamps leads France in to their second major tournament under his reign. The forty-seven year old manager guided Les Bleus to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2014. Eventual champions Germany defeated Deschamps' side in the final eight of the competition, but the former Marseille and Juventus manager will be looking to make amends this time out. Deschamps' greatest honour as manager, to date, was winning the French league title with Marseille. He will certainly be looking to add the European Championship title to his collection.


Prediction

France are widely considered as one of the top three teams in the tournament, alongside current holders Spain and world champions Germany. With the likes of Belgium, England, Italy and Portugal all looking to have a say on the final proceedings of the competition, the campaign will not be an easy one for Deschamps' men. However, the strength in depth of his squad, combined with the quality of their main players, makes France one of the clear favourites to contest the title. Home advantage has proven to be an advantage for Les Bleus in the past, having won the tournament the last time it was contested in France. Can they take advantage of it this time? I believe they can.

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