World Champions France to lift the trophy?
Didier Deschamps’ France national football team has been enjoying a period of dominance in international football as they narrowly missed out on winning the 2016 UEFA European Championship and followed it up by lifting the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
A disappointing 1-0 loss to Portugal in the final of Euros 2016 is still alive in the memory of many French fans and Deschamps would be looking forward to lifting the trophy once again after captaining the French team to ultimate glory in Euros 2000.
The 1998-2000 Les Blues side is often considered the greatest team in the nation’s history as they won both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 UEFA European Championship and the current crop of players would be eager to stamp their name in the history books as well.
France has been drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ as they open their campaign with a match against Germany at the Allianz Arena followed by Hungary and defending champions Portugal at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium.
Deschamps has the riches of picking a star-studded squad despite leaving many star players at home and the highlight of the 26-member squad is the return of Karim Benzema to the national team fold after a gap of 7 years.
Full squad: Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Mike Maignan, Raphaël Varane, Jules Kounde, Lucas Digne, Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Clement Lenglet, Kurt Zouma, Leo Dubois, Paul Pogba, Moussa Sissoko, N’Golo Kanté, Adrien Rabiot, Corentin Tolisso, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé, Kingsley Coman, Thomas Lemar, Ousmane Dembele, Wissam Ben Yedder, Karim Benzema, Marcus Thuram
Steve Mandanda could have been the No.1 for France had he been born in another generation but dislodging France legend and skipper Hugo Lloris from his throne is almost an impossible task. At the Euros 2020, the Tottenham Hotspurs goalkeeper would be looking forward to using his tons of experience and laying his hands on a trophy he hasn’t won yet.
Mike Maignan is being touted as the next first-choice goalkeeper for both France and Tottenham but the Lille goalkeeper will have to wait until the end of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to have a realistic shot at the No.1 shirt.
Raphael Varane and Lucas Hernandez look like the first-choice partnership in the heart of the French defense with Presnel Kimpembe, Clement Lenglet, Jules Kounde, and Kurt Zouma available as options for the centre-back position as well.
Against top sides like Germany and Portugal, Hernandez could be seen at left-back with either Kimpembe or Lenglet partnering Varane in the centre-back position.
Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Digne are expected to play in the full-back roles with Leo Dubois and Hernandez available for the respective positions in defense as well. Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy, AC Milan’s Theo Hernandez and Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy have been left home in favor of Everton’s Digne.
The stature, vision, and creativity of Paul Pogba paired with Ngolo Kante’s speed, steel, and determination make them one of the best midfield duos in the world. Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso, Tottenham’s Mousa Sissoko, and Juventes’ Adrien Rabiot will be the understudy for the duo in the double pivot roles.
Antoine Griezmann is the best No.10 in the squad and the Barcelona man will be challenged by Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Lemar for a place in the starting XI. When in lead, Tolisso and Kante could be seen as the double pivot with Paul Pogba playing as the playmaker in the team.
The return of Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has stolen the limelight in France’s preparation for the 2020 Euros. The 33-year old will be provided adequate challenge by 2018 World Cup-winning striker Olivier Giroud and Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder.
Kylian Mbappe is a sure-starter on the right side of the France attack with Griezmann, Coman, and Lemar also technically sound enough to play in the position if and when the need arises. Kingsley Coman should be the first choice left-winger and Ousmane Dembele, Marcus Thuram, Pogba, and Lemar also available to play on the left side of the attack.
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, Florian Thauvin, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette, Nabil Fekir, and Lyon’s Houssem Aouar could count themselves unlucky to miss out on an already star-studded squad.
Best Starting XI: Hugo Lloris (C), Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Lucas Hernandez, Lucas Digne, Ngolo Kante, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Kingsley Coman, Karim Benzema
Predicted finish: Champions