World Cup 2022: All you need to know about France
Reigning champions France must overcome ropey recent form and key injuries if they are to become the first side to defend their World Cup crown in 60 years.
Didier Deschamps will be without the likes of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Christopher Nkunku in Qatar, while one win in six has raised serious alarm bells among Les Bleus supporters.
Yet with the mercurial Kylian Mbappe and Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema spearheading an outrageously talented group, glory on December 18 remains a distinct possibility.
France’s group stage fixtures and UK kick-off times
France vs Australia (Tuesday, November 22, 7pm)
France vs Denmark (Saturday, November 26, 4pm)
Tunisia vs France (Wednesday, November 30, 3pm)
How France qualified for Qatar 2022
While not exactly setting the world alight, at no point did France’s spot at the 2022 World Cup seem under any threat during the qualification phase.
Five wins and three draws saw them comfortably top their group, six points ahead of second-placed Ukraine who held them to competitive 1-1 draws in both meetings.
Other than one emphatic 8-0 victory over Kazakhstan, performances lacked the panache Deschamps would have hoped for, but it was at least a comfortable passage.
How France could line up
Hugo Lloris can become France’s record appearance holder if he features up until the last-16 stage, with the 35-year-old set to skipper the side once again from between the sticks.
Things are far less certain in front of the Tottenham stopper, though recent failed experimentations with a 3-1-4-2 may see Deschamps revert to a back four of Theo Hernandez, Raphael Varane, Ibrahima Konate and Benjamin Pavard.
Aurelien Tchouameni, Youssouf Fofana and Eduardo Camavinga are likely beneficiaries of an injury crisis in central midfield, while a fluid Antoine Griezmann will look to link play into the fearsome front paring of Mbappe and Benzema.
Predicted XI: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Konate, Hernandez; Tchouameni, Fofana, Camavinga; Griezmann; Mbappe, Benzema
Star man: Kylian Mbappe
Four goals in France’s 2018 triumph saw Mbappe crowned the World Cup’s best young player — but this time around he arrives as the tournament’s star attraction.
Uncertainty continues to rumble over the 23-year-old’s club future, with Paris Saint-Germain’s style of play under Christophe Galtier supposedly reigniting a long-term desire to join Real Madrid.
What is not up for debate is his prolific touch, with 19 goals in 20 appearances across Ligue 1 and the Champions League this term enough to send shivers down the spines of opposing defences in the Middle East.
One to watch: Aurelien Tchouameni
While Pogba and Kante’s injuries are far from ideal, Real Madrid youngster Tchouameni is set to show the wider world why there was such a clamour for his signature last summer.
Arriving at the Bernabeu for an initial £68.3million, the ex-Monaco man has started 16 of Los Blancos’ 20 matches across LaLiga and Europe, quickly establishing himself as a key cog in Carlo Ancelotti’s starting XI.
At 22, Tchouameni possesses outstanding physical traits and his relentless ball-winning will allow Les Bleus’ attacking stars to spend most of their time running riot high up the pitch.
The boss: Didier Deschamps
For a manager who has delivered World Cup and Nations League success, 54-year-old Deschamps still holds his fair share of critics among the French press pack.
Though the football under his stewardship has not always been as free-flowing as critics would have liked, results speak for themselves and his emphasis on creating a harmonious environment has paid dividends.
All the noises suggest he will depart after Qatar, with Zinedine Zidane seemingly lined up to replace him, even though lifting the crown here would surely cement his place as France's greatest ever coach.
France's official 26-man World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Steve Mandanda (Rennes)
Defenders: Axel Disasi (Monaco), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United)
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Jordan Veretout (Marseille)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach), Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt)
All information correct as of November 16, 2022