Euro 2020 team guides part 21: France | Soccer


This article is part of the Guardian’s Euro 2020 Experts’ Network, a cooperation between some of the best media organizations from the 24 countries that qualified. features previews from two countries each day as the tournament begins on June 11th.

The record of France (10 v, 2 n. 1) since its qualification for the Euro speaks for itself, especially since the only defeat occurred during a friendly match against Finland where Didier Deschamps played his second string. The quality of play and levels of entertainment have been questionable, but when it comes to key games, the world champions continue to win with their typical collective self-confidence, clinical finish and individual flair.

After a 10-month hiatus imposed by the pandemic, Deschamps took advantage of the Nations League matches last fall to try out three different systems – 3-4-1-2, 4-4-2 with a midfielder in diamond and 4-4-2 – and to consider some young players. “I can’t think of anything worse than a team going wrong and can’t reassess themselves,” he said. “You also have to surprise your players and change their routine from time to time. “

In November, Deschamps returned to his favorite 4-4-2 and won Portugal 1-0 in France’s most accomplished performance in the past three years. It seemed clear that Plan A for the euros would look pretty much like it was in Russia.

Euro 2020: is Deschamps' France doomed to success?  - video preview
Euro 2020: is Deschamps’ France doomed to success? – video preview

The only minor changes are that Samuel Umtiti and Blaise Matuidi, now playing in MLS, have given way to Presnel Kimpembe and Adrien Rabiot, the latter back in favor after refusing to be on the waiting list for Russia 2018. Oh, and then there was the sudden and incredible summons of Karim Benzema, absent from the national team since October 2015 due to his alleged involvement in a sex tape blackmail case, which he denies.

Benzema’s involvement could change the whole dynamic, but it wasn’t an instinctive call, as Deschamps explained when he announced his 26th birthday. “I thought about it for a long time and decided, as I always do, what was best for the team. We won without Karim, but he’s in his prime and also a different player, we know each other well and he can improve this team. I just have to find a new balance but I have no doubts about him and I am lucky to have smart players.

Otherwise, France’s strengths remain the same: a solid defensive unit protected by N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba, efficient transitions and an incredible attack with a lot of speed, experience and skill. The key questions are what impact Benzema’s return will have on and off the pitch and how fresh and fit the most influential players (Lloris, Varane, Kanté, Griezmann, Mbappé and Benzema) will be after a season as well. weird and demanding.

The coach

After leading Monaco to the Champions League final (2004), bringing Juventus back to Serie A (2007) and clinching the title with Marseille (2010), Deschamps took the reins of France in 2012 and continued to do so for what it is known: to win. With a contract until the end of the next World Cup, he is already the oldest coach in France and has an impressive record of P111 W73 D20 L18. He lives in Èze, a village on the Côte d’Azur near Monaco, and remains calm and focused on football apart from a few charitable activities, including a donation to Operation Pièces Jaunes, which helps children in need of long-term hospital care. duration.

Didier Deschamps is now the oldest French manager of all time. Photograph: Franck Fife / Reuters


French Prime Minister Jean Castex recently needed someone to relaunch the Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Who did he turn to? Kylian Mbappé of course. Brilliant, charismatic and sympathetic, he is a role model for all young people and, coming from Bondy, one of the poorest Parisian suburbs, he is a symbol of success for the most disadvantaged. With more than 50 million followers on Instagram and six million on Twitter, no other French actor is more present on social networks.

Happy for a year late

Due to a thigh operation, Ousmane Dembélé played only nine games last season for Barcelona and only returned to the field in September 2020. Peripheral while France won the World Cup, he has now fully recovered and his incredible speed and one-on-one skills could have a big impact. “He’s back at his best and more mature, he has a lot to offer and I like his versatility,” said Deschamps.

Probable composition

The probable composition of France
The probable composition of France

What the fans sing

When it comes to football songs, France is not the most creative country. In fact, no one can remember a song about the national team since Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive was taken over by the Hermes House Band, a Dutch group, in 1998. The tune remains forever associated with their premiere. World Cup victory that year and France’s victory. major trophies, so that might still do the trick.

What the fans are saying

“Here is Dédé’s cat again!” – Here is Dede [Deschamps’ nickname] try again!

“No matter what, Giroud will come in and score the decisive corn.” – No matter how, Giroud will come at some point and score the winning goal.

“As long as Kanté can run, no worries. – As long as Kanté can run, there is no problem.

Pandemic hero / villain

Paul Pogba collected € 60,000 in association with Unicef ​​U and set up an anniversary fundraiser in March 2020 to “help fight this war against Covid-19”. The Manchester United midfielder has said he will double the amount if he reaches the € 30,000 target. Kylian Mbappé, meanwhile, paid an unknown “substantial” amount to a charity supporting the most vulnerable. “Concerned about the consequences of the serious health crisis affecting our country, but also about all the consequences it can have on the most vulnerable people, Kylian Mbappé has just made a very large donation to support the Foundation’s action. Abbé Pierre, ”the charity said in a statement.

Patrick Urbini writes for L’Équipe.

Follow him on twitter @purbini.

For a profile of Lucas Hernandez, click here.


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