© Getty Images
France will be determined to prove their mettle at international stage © Getty Images

France play host to one of the most prestigious footballing trophy in the world, the UEFA European Football Championship or Euro as is it commonly called now days. France has a rich culture of football since the early 1900’s having played their official ever match in 1904. Les Bleus as they are commonly referred to as by football fans all around the world, have won two FIFA World Cup titles in 1984 led by Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane in 1998 in their own backyard. Platini and Didier Deschamps (current coach) made sure France became European Champions as well guiding them to 1984 and 2000 Euro titles respectively. France participated in the inaugural editions of both World Cup and Euro, which makes them one of the most experienced sides in the world when it comes to footballing knowledge.

France hosted the inaugural European Nations Cup in 1960 where they finished fourth losing to Yugoslavia 4-5 in the semi-finals attended by 26,370 people in the stadium. France after that year remained to be a spectator to the tournament missing out on 5 Euro championships from 1964 – 1980. With the seventh edition of Euro allotted to France, they made a come due to direct entry as the host nation. Les Bleus made a brilliant come back in 1984 showing the world their might after winning the World Cup and the Euro in the same year. Lead by the Platini or Le Roi as the world called him, France made their presence felt in Europe and went on to their first ever title. Platini scored as many as 9 goals in five matches including opening goal in the final against Spain. Platini also scored the fastest goal of the tournament against Belgium (3 minutes). Jean Tigana and Alain Giresse supported Platini in the midfield, providing him with through balls and long passes to score those goals.

France did not qualify in the 1988 and finished 6th in the 1992 edition. France who repeated history in 2000 under Deschamps winning the Euro’s while still being world champions (FIFA World Cup 1998). Deschamps lead a side, which came second in their Group, went on to defeat perennial rivals Italy in the final. France won both their Semi-final tie against Portugal and final against Italy via a golden goal thanks to Zinedine Zidane and David Trezeguet respectively.  Zidane at his disposal had Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires easily one of the most talented and gifted football sides to play lay foot on the pitch.

France since then has seen a downward spiral in the Euro finishing 6th in the 2004 edition and a lowly fifteen in the 2008 edition under manager Raymond Domenech. Since then France has come a long way in terms of team composition and style of play. Even though they had former winners in Vieira and Henry, well complimented by Claude Makelele, Nicolas Anelka and Franck Ribery France were a into shambles with the team fighting through personal conflicts.

Having been given a direct entry into the main tournament as host country France has looked rather erratic in their post Euro form. France have won 3 out their last 5 matches since November, 2015.They still have a game in hand against Scotland on June 4. France kicks off Euro playing their opening encounter against Romania on June 10 at Saint-Denis. France plays their second tie against Albania on June 15 at Marseille. Their last and most crucial match is against Switzerland on June 19 at Lille. France is currently coached by Deschamps, who guided them to 2000 title.

23-member Squad: France squad for UEFA EURO 2016

 Goalkeepers: Benoît Costil, Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda.

Defenders: Lucas Digne, Patrice Evra, Christophe Jallet , Laurent Koscielny , Eliaquim Mangala, Samuel Umtiti, Bacary Sagna, Adil Rami.

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye, Morgan Schneiderlin, N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba, Moussa Sissoko.

Forwards: Kingsley Coman, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Olivier Giroud, Antoine, Griezmann, Anthony Martial, Dimitri Payet.

Team Analysis:

Deschamps would be happy with most of its players looking well oiled having played hard and tactically demanding season of football for their clubs around Europe. With the back line consisting of Evra, Koscienly,Sagna and Mangala they look more compact than the previous teams. France will be unfortunate to miss out on Raphael Varane and Jeremy Mathieu who missed the Euro bus owing to injury. Schneiderlin and Kante have been on the mark with their play in for Manchester United and Leicester City. Schneiderlin has been drafted in place for Lassana Diarra who was injured just before deadline. French forward line has been touted as one of the most awaited line-up with Griezmann, Payet and Martial all of whom having been in great scoring form. But amidst all them it will be Juventus’s Paul Pogba who will be scanned to the bits as and when he plays.

(Vishal Mehra is a reporter at CricketCountry, who enjoys his weekly dose of anime, and plays cricket once a white moon. His twitter handle is @capturethecatch )