Saturday 17 March 2018

World Cup team preview: France

France's Karim Benzema (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring in the playoff victory over the Ukraine
France's Karim Benzema (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring in the playoff victory over the Ukraine

We're closing in on the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and we're up to France in our team preview list.

Where to begin with Didier Deschamps side? A cloud hangs over the French setup following the surprise omission of Samir Nasri from his 23-man squad and the subsequent fallout.

Their talent is absolutely unquestionable but their egos and attitudes can sometimes leave a lot to be desired.

With a spine of Hugo Lloris, Laurent Koscielny, Raphael Varane, Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye and Karim Benzema, France should prove dangerous opponents for any side.

Also in the favour of Les Bleus is their favourable draw. If they can't get out of a group with Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador then someone should be guillotined.

Group E: Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador

Tournament odds: 22/1

How they got here

France had no margin for error in a five-team group which contained world champions Spain.

In the end, they made just one slip, losing at home to La Roja¬, but it was a defeat that cost them first place in the section.

France didn't pull up any trees in qualification but did draw with the Spaniards on Spanish soil.

In their playoff with the Ukraine, superior desire and team spirit earned the Eastern Europeans a 2-0 advantage at the halfway stage in the tie in Kiev.

France mustered a 3-0 success in Paris to qualify in dramatic circumstances for the second successive time.

Key player

Franck Ribery will have to produce his best form if the French are to triumph again.

Too often in big games for Bayern this season the precocious winger was marked absent.

The new generation of Varane and Pogba will also be crucial.

Franck Ribery, left, and Karim Benzema denied the charges (AP)

Something you didn't know about France

The French government gives medals to citizens who have "successfully raised several children with dignity."

Online Editors

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