The wait is finally over, as the 2020 edition of the European Championship kickstarts tonight, with Italy and Turkey facing each other in the curtain-raiser. A host of nations including England, Germany and Portugal are being tagged as favourites, but none more so than the current world champions France, determined to seal the title, after being beaten by Portugal in the 2016 final.
In this feature, the 4th Official takes a look at France’s chances in the upcoming Euro 2020 and whether or not they will be able to continue their dominance in world football.
A Complete Preview Of France In Euro 2020
Form Heading Into The Tournament
France qualified for Euro 2020 by finishing top in Group H with eight wins in ten matches, pipping second-placed Turkey by just two points. The nation fared well in the UEFA Nations League as well and are set to play Belgium in the semi-final in October 2021.
As far as their recent form is concerned, France had a disappointing start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, drawing 1-1 with Ukraine. However, two back to back wins over Kazakhstan and Bosnia & Herzegovina put them back on track, with Les Bleus also securing wins in two of their warm-up matches heading into the tournament (against Wales and Bulgaria).
France’s head coach Didier Deschamps has enjoyed a lot of success since being appointed in 2012. Especially over the last five years, the French footballing legend led his team to the final of the 2016 European Championship and was triumphant in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Deschamps’ men performed well in the Nations League as well.
Over the years, the 52-year-old has worked hard to build a solid core in the France team. He has received a lot of criticism for his stubbornness regarding his squad selection, but his gamble with more experienced players rather than accommodating inexperienced international players has worked out quite well.
For Deschamps, sealing the Euro 2020 title could be an ideal way to silence the critics, and given the success he has already had with the national team, it won’t be long before he receives a lucrative contract from one of the top footballing clubs in Europe.
France’s team in Euro 2020 is chock-full of international stars who have established themselves as key players for their respective top clubs in European football. Perhaps the biggest of them is Kylian Mbappe.
Tagged as the next big thing in the world of football, this is the tournament where the PSG superstar needs to take on the mantle of becoming the leader of the French attack. His pace, speed and dribbling prowess, coupled with his combination play with Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema will go a long way in helping France seal the title.
N’Golo Kante is another key player for France, as far as the midfield department is concerned, having starred for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League this season. His work ethic is paramount to the team’s second line of press whereas Raphael Varane’s leadership from the back will be crucial as well, especially as Deschamps opted for a bunch of relatively new international players including Jules Kounde.
France’s biggest strength heading into the tournament is the overall balance of their squad. While Deschamps does have among the best attack in the competition, this French side is strong enough to see out teams defensively as well. In addition, the team has a lot of experienced figures who have the pedigree of performing at such a high level.
Deschamps’ expertise and man-management skills in big competitions is also a major plus for Les Bleus, as they hope to continue their dominance over world football.
As for the weaknesses, there is one major flaw in France’s game, which is the lack of a truly certified leader in the camp. The defence, in particular, though strong on paper, has a habit of making mistakes, especially given the error-prone nature of Varane and Benjamin Pavard. On the other hand, Presnel Kimpembe doesn’t have an ounce of composure and temperament in this game.
In the attacking department, there is a slight disparity between Benzema and the other attacking options including Olivier Giroud and Wissam Ben Yedder. Giroud has already gone public with Mbappe’s tendency to not pass the ball to him enough and instead favouring Benzema, and this could be a problem for Deschamps, especially if the Real Madrid forwards ends up missing games, due to his recent “knock”.
The Tactical View Of France In Euro 2020
The biggest tactical issue facing Didier Deschamps is the presence of the shuttle player of the three-man midfield. In order for his 4-3-1-2 to work, the French tactician requires a player who can make supporting runs forwards, creating vertical thrust in the final third.
Unfortunately, the decline of Blaise Matuidi, who was a master in that role, now leaves Deschamps with a selection dilemma. The 52-year-old now has to choose between Adrien Rabiot and Corentin Tolisso, and though both are blessed with technical prowess, they provide different characteristics in the middle of the park.
We are predicting Tolisso to adopt this role, despite his problems with injuries at Bayern. In fact, it won’t be surprising to see the Frenchman end the tournament as one of its star players, although the scenario could play out differently as well.
One Player To Watch Out For
In a team filled with international superstars such as Mbappe, Griezmann, Varane and Benzema, it is hard to pick a player who might outshine the more established ones. However, a case could be made for Jules Kounde.
A centre-back by trade, the youngster had an exemplary 2020/21 campaign with Sevilla, becoming one of Europe’s most talented defenders. In Deschamps’ books, though, Kounde is not a starter.
That could change, however, as Kimpembe has a poor temperament and given the opposition France will face in Group F, it won’t be surprising to see Deschamps explore other options. It could pave the way ideally for Kounde to truly make an impact with Les Bleus and announce himself as the next great prospect in French football.
Prediction For France In Euro 2020
France have been drafted in Group of Death that features in the 2016 European Champions Portugal and the 2014 world champions Germany, in addition to Hungary and France, who are the current world champions.
It is going to be a tricky test for Didier Deschamps and his men, as there will be no margin of error. Les Bleus, though, boast arguably the strongest team in the competition, so it will still be a surprise to see them fail to finish Group F behind either Germany or Portugal.
Read More: A Complete Preview Of Germany In Euro 2020 | Can Joachim Loew End His Legacy On A High Note?
As for the knockout stages, they have a solid balance in their ranks and are strong enough to outscore most opposition. The 4th Official, therefore, expects the current world champions to go all the way, although they might once again face disappointment in the final.
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