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Kylian Mbappe will be looking to build on an impressive  season
Kylian Mbappe will be looking to build on an impressive season

Just as they did in 2000, France arrive at the European Championship as reigning world champions.

Didier Deschamps captained them to victory 21 years ago and he will be looking to repeat the feat from the dugout.

After losing the final as hosts in 2016 to Portugal, they head into the tournament as one of the favourites thanks to their embarrassment of attacking riches — and rightly so.

Background

Historically, France have blown hot and cold at international tournaments.

After finishing fourth in 1960, they failed to qualify for the Euros again for 24 years. Upon their return, however, Les Bleus won the competition as hosts.

They could not defend their crown in 1988 after missing out on qualification before crashing out in the group stage in 1992.

Champions again in 2000, they failed to go beyond the quarters in the next three tournaments, exiting in the group stage in 2008 despite the combined talents of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele, Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery.

Drawn in a daunting Group F alongside Portugal, Germany and Hungary, France cannot afford any off days if they are to progress.

Germany and Hungary will both have home advantage against Deschamps’ men. 

But if they come through the so-called group of death, anything is possible for this immensely talented collective. 

How they qualified

N'Golo Kante arrives at the Euros in stellar form
N'Golo Kante arrives at the Euros in stellar form

Les Bleus got their qualification campaign off to a flier, scoring four times in four of their first five matches.

A shock 2-0 defeat to Turkey ended their hopes of a perfect record but they recovered to win four of their remaining five games, dropping points in a 1-1 draw with the Turks in Paris.

It was enough to see them top Group H as Deschamps’ side averaged 2.5 goals per game and conceded just six times in 10 matches.

Olivier Giroud topped the charts with six goals as 12 different players found the back of the net. 

The line-up

France have a stacked squad — arguably the best at the tournament.

So stacked, in fact, that France were able to include Ibrahima Konate, Dayot Upamecano, Houssem Aouar, Moussa Diaby and soon-to-be Leicester midfielder Boubakary Soumare in their European Under-21 Championship squad.

Deschamps’ decision to bring Benzema back into the fold after a five-year exile only adds to an already enviable array of attackers.

No matter who gets the nod, France's forward line will be the envy of every other nation.

Predicted line up: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Hernandez; Pogba, Kante, Rabiot; Griezmann, Benzema, Mbappe.

Star man: Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbbape and Karim Benzema are expected to form two-thirds of France's attack
Kylian Mbbape and Karim Benzema are expected to form two-thirds of France's attack

Who else could it really be?

Benzema may have netted 23 times in LaLiga in 2020-21, the second-highest return of his career, and Antoine Griezmann may have looked much more at home with Barcelona, but France’s success will hinge on how impactful Kylian Mbappe can be.

The 22-year-old hit 27 in 31 starts in Ligue 1 for Paris Saint-Germain and finished the campaign with 42 goals from 47 appearances across all competitions, making it the most prolific of his career.

After single-handedly destroying Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League, this could well be his tournament.

Up-and-comer: Jules Kounde

Expected to get a move to a big European club this summer, Sevilla’s Jules Kounde is ready and waiting to have a big impact if France’s first-choice centre-backs are unable to play.

Just making the 26-man squad proves how highly Kounde, 22, is rated, given Dayot Upamecano and Liverpool new-boy Ibrahima Konate are both stuck with the U-21s.

He made his senior debut in the 3-0 victory over Wales on Wednesday night after making 159 appearances for Bordeaux and Sevilla already in his young career.

Standing at under 6ft, Kounde's strengths are reading the game brilliantly to cover for his team-mates and carrying the ball out to start attacks.

A standout tournament after an impressive season will see the Sevilla defender’s price tag rocket.

The boss: Didier Deschamps

Despite his success with France, Deschamps still divides opinion. 

Often accused of being too conservative, both with France’s system and his selections, he knows how to get results.

He has guided the team to back-to-back finals and found a way to get the best out of his key players, with Mbappe, Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante all thriving in the set-up he uses.

Deschamps will not ever crowbar superstar names in to the detriment of the side. As a manager, he is all about balance and ensuring his team does not concede. 

It is not always the prettiest but it is effective.

If he is able to lead France to yet another final, it would be impossible to argue with his record.

All information correct as of midday, June 4, 2021

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FranceEuropean ChampionshipKylian Mbappe Lottin

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