France World Cup squad guide: Full fixtures, group, ones to watch, odds and more

PROFILE: With the tournament only days away we take an in-depth look at all 32 teams in Russia

Jack Watson
Monday 11 June 2018 15:52
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2018 Russia World Cup in numbers

After missing out on winning their home European Championship by an extra time defeat to Portugal in 2016, France’s young and talented squad is two years older and look like serious contenders to win the World Cup. Didier Deschamps is taking charge of his second World Cup after leading France to the quarter-final stage in Brazil, where they lost 1-0 to Germany.

Key to France’s success will be to get all the star players playing to the best of their ability, including Paul Pogba. Pogba’s form for Manchester United has been consistently underwhelming this season and at times Jose Mourinho preferred their 21-year-old academy graduate Scott McTominay over their record signing. Like his form in Manchester, Pogba’s performances for France have fluctuated.

With more freedom he has shown he can be Les Bleus’ best player, but with tactical restrictions forced upon him he is a much less impressive player. If Deschamps can get the best out of Pogba, France will be an even more feared side. If not, they have still got, N’Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and a host of other incredible players available to them.

The one disappointment around their squad is Dimitri Payet’s absence which was a result of him leaving the Europa League final pitch in tears after the Marseilles midfielder was forced off in the first half with the aggravation of a thigh strain.

Fixtures

France vs Australia – 11:00, Saturday 16 June
France vs Peru – 16:00, Thursday 21 June
Denmark vs France – Tuesday 26 June

Key Players

Antoine Griezmann: Antoine Griezmann has been setting Europe alight since erupting on the scene at Atletico Madrid four years ago. The 2016 European Championship Player of the Tournament and Golden Boot winner always raises his performances in the biggest games, recently scoring twice in the final of the Europa League when Atletico Madrid beat Marseilles.

Griezmann was one of the standout performers

N’Golo Kante: In a disappointing league campaign for Chelsea, there was always one consistently excellent player: N’Golo Kante. Nobody has ever walked away from Stamford Bridge or the Stade de France thinking he’s put in a less than excellent shift. A late emerger on the international stage, Kante, 27, only has 22 caps and played his first ever competitive game for France I the first game of the 2016 Euros.

Kylian Mbappe: In glimpses Kylian Mbappe has shown that he has the potential to become one of the best players in the world this season at PSG. However, it has not all been straightforward for the 19-year-old. The attacker acknowledged in March he was not in his “best period” of form, but Deschamps is working on rebuilding his confidence. “He has completely changed the galaxy,” said the France manager. “He’s still a player who is at the very highest level.”

One to watch

Benjamin Mendy: Manchester City fans did not quite see the entire Benjamin Mendy package the club paid over £50m for, on the pitch anyway. The attacking wing-back suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his fourth league game and returned to action six months later in April. Despite the injury-hit season, he has gained a place in France’s World Cup squad but has been trading starts with Lucas Hernandez in warm-up friendlies.

How did they get here?

France eased through their qualifying group ahead of Sweden, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Belarus, losing just once. Despite finishing first by four points, France were frequently playing below their best and laboured in front of goal.

How will they do?

Looking through the squad, there is absolutely no reason why France cannot go to Russia and win the World Cup. They have seasoned winners throughout their team and talent to rival any other nation. Anything short of the semi-final will be a very big disappointment.

Odd on winning the World Cup: 11/2

Squad

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Alphonse Areola

Defenders: Djibril Sidibe, Benjamin Pavard, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, Adil Rami, Benjamin Mendy, Lucas Hernandez

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Corentin Tolisso, Blaise Matuidi, Ngolo Kante, Steven Nzonzi

Forwards: Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Florian Thauvin, Nabil Fekir, Thomas Lemar

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