Euro 2012 - Team profile: France

Mon, 04 Jun 11:23:00 2012

Despite a style of play that has not exactly filled the fans with enthusiasm, France go into the Euro 2012 finals as potential winners only two years after their World Cup fiasco.

Samir Nasri Franck Ribery - 0

A 2-1 win against Germany in Bremen in February stretched les Bleus' unbeaten run to 18 games as they showed they should definitely be a force to be reckoned with in June - even though some of their performances in the qualifiers left something to be desired.

That run has since stretched to 20 matches.

"Everybody was a bit scared before the Germany game and everyone has been pleasantly surprised by our match and by the result," said France coach Laurent Blanc, who took over from Raymond Domenech after les Bleus were knocked out in the first round following off-pitch drama.

Domenech lost control of his squad in South Africa, with striker Nicolas Anelka being kicked out after insulting the coach at half-time in France's 2-0 defeat against Mexico.

Almost two years later, the former world and European champions have regained composure.

"It is nice to win in Germany but we still have a lot of work to do to perform well," said Blanc. "The victory in Bremen showed we are able to raise our level on one game. But I say one game. Whether we can do it throughout a competition is another question."

Blanc's first ambition was to win one game in a group featuring old foes England, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine.

The Germany win obviously changed that with France now expected to go through after recording victories against England, Brazil and Germany since the World Cup.

Although he has yet to find the perfect mix in midfield, Blanc has probably found his central defence, with Philippe Mexes expected to partner Adil Rami, barring injuries.

Mexes has partnered with the Valencia defender 10 times since the World Cup, in which France conceded only four goals, including two in Blanc's first outing, a 2-1 defeat against Norway.

But France's defensive record also owes a lot to cold-blooded keeper Hugo Lloris, who has been named captain after a string of perfect performances both with Lyon and les Bleus.

Blanc's main concern may be the left flank, where Franck Ribery has been struggling to reproduce the form that made him an undisputed starter at Bayern Munich.

Up front, Blanc will be hoping that Karim Benzema will carry his Real Madrid form into the Euro finals. He will also have, in Montpellier's Olivier Giroud, the Ligue 1 top scorer.

Despite the positives though, France's qualification for the finals was not without its worries.

They finished just one point clear of Bosnia at the top of their group, but the final group game - against Bosnia in Paris last October - did not go exactly according to plan.

Bosnia took the lead before half-time, and with 13 minutes to play, they were leading the group with France second. However, that changed with Samir Nasri equalised for France from the spot and that goal enabled France to draw and Finish on 21 points to Bosnia's 20.

That points tally was the lowest by any group winner in the six-team groups and does hint at an inconsistency that may yet undermine their high hopes of emulating the 1984 and 2000 European Championship-winning sides.

Despite a style of play that has not exactly filled the fans with enthusiasm, France go into the Euro 2012 finals as potential winners. - 2

Reuters

Comment 15 - 35 of 35

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  1. Considering what France was left with after WC2010­ fiasco, no one would have expected they'd be where­ they're at now, in just two years! Unbeaten for 21­ straight games having played Brazil and Germany!?! Plus­ they have become one of the most offensive teams in­ Europe, credit to them just for that.

    From deki smokton, on Wed 6 Jun 6:27
  2. i hope they hammer england and stop all the england­ fans thinking they will win this competition because­ lets be honest they could not win an egg and spoon race

    From C, on Tue 5 Jun 10:49
  3. if there anything like arsenal they,l come bottom of­ the group.

    From Adam, on Tue 5 Jun 8:46
  4. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    Academic anyway; unless they've been set up to meet­ before the finals then it is still Spain and Holland­ for the final. France are due a loss and I really rate­ Hart as a keeper who thrives under pressure. Hodgson­ will get some impressive wins at this tournament but­ they'll be boring to watch and still no clear­ match-winner in a tight 50-50 game.

    From Richard Bold, on Mon 4 Jun 23:31
  5. France to come kondo last:)

    From Mr Burns, on Mon 4 Jun 22:15
  6. If France turn up they should beat England fairly­ comfortably, however if Ribery & Co throw their­ toys out of the pram we might nick it. Bring back­ Domenech!!

    From James Jones, on Mon 4 Jun 21:39
  7. France will hammer England especially if Roy goes with­ tortoise Terry at the back.

    From RICHARD, on Mon 4 Jun 19:03
  8. I just think it's hard for young keepers.Having­ world class players run at you, taking beastin shots­ and knowing it's all down to you to keep the ball­ out and it's when they score, or they make a­ blunder that they loose confidence, get criticized and­ so fourth. Many young keepers have great potential...­ De Gea, Szczesny, Sirigu, Ter Stegen, Leno.. The list­ goes on... Some flop because of lack of confidence in­ making mistakes. But the keepers that turn out to be­ legends are the ones that continue holding their heads­ high despite errors and keep working away.. gaining­ that experience and so fourth.

    From John, on Mon 4 Jun 18:40
  9. I personally rate Szczesny highly, I think he's­ had a brilliant season, and his main problem has been­ Arsenals ever changing back four. As pointed out with­ De Gea it's important for the goalie to work with­ their defenders, and I think Szczesny's suffered­ through not being able to build a solid rapport with­ any defenders due to injury and squad rotation. I also­ think he's been unfairly blamed sometimes when the­ defence has let him down. I think Podolski's­ problems at Bayern weren't as bad as made out,­ though I feel most of his problems were due to being­ such a big fan of Koln, it probably didn't feel­ right to be playing for another team in the­ league(similar to how Del Piero would rather go abroad­ than play against Juventus). Hopefully he won't­ have these hangups playing in th Premier League. Though­ I feel the biggest question about Podolski is whether­ he's been bought as winger, or a Van Persie­ replacement.

    From Sean, on Mon 4 Jun 18:18
  10. Not an Arsenal fan, no. I agree with you on Vermaelan,­ I like him good quality defender who can also score a­ goal or two as well. Szczesny though? hmmm nope, he is­ still young though. He tends to make errors but he is­ still learning the game. I am not being harsh, I am­ just saying it the way I see it. Yeah those examples­ had good immediate impact but will it last? I mean it­ could just be a "one hit wonder" kind of­ season. Quality will always rise to the top. Quality is­ produced year in and year out. I do like the Arsenal­ youth set-up but how long have we been saying that?­ Sometime or another they are going to have to produce­ something. Looking at Arsenal right now I say they are­ severely lacking that quality to take them to the next­ level. As for Podolski, he could prove a hit or a miss.­ I remember he went to Bayern and really struggled but­ that experience might help him at Arsenal. It might­ have taught him something. I will say this though, he­ is an exciting player on his day.

    From Gareth, on Mon 4 Jun 17:29
  11. Sean# Yeah exactly. Same with De Gea and so many­ others. Some players fit in straight away and others­ don't. I think De Gea's main problem was that­ he was young, in a place that's totally alien to­ him and not understanding a word of English doesn't­ really help and one major thing that keepers must do is­ communicate with the defenders. A lot of big names at­ united to and high expectations so i guess he was just­ over whelmed and a little out of place. But eventually­ learned some English and fitted in more and his­ performances near the end of the season shows. It's­ just like most players though.

    From John, on Mon 4 Jun 17:23
  12. As soon as france come on i will switch over boring­ doesnt come close. Lets hope they dont have another­ petty little mutiny like last time when they dragged­ the world cup into the gutter idiots.

    From stevo, on Mon 4 Jun 17:20
  13. @John. Yeah I like Santos as a player, he seems to have­ the same problem a lot of South American defenders­ have, where he goes forward to much, I remember one­ game recently, where he was often Arsenal's most­ advanced player. I think a run in the first team, even­ in the friendlies could do him good, after all look at­ the difrent between David Luiz at the start and end of­ the season, a completely different player.

    From Sean, on Mon 4 Jun 17:10
  14. @Gareth. Yeah, it's good point I was more thinking­ of the choices though. Wegner has always maintained­ that it takes players a season to get used to the­ Premier League, but I feel that statement has been­ proven wrong over the last few seasons where if you­ look most of the players imported seem to fit straight­ in. Van De Vaart, Cabaye, Cisse, Pogrebnyak, Sigurdson,­ Jelavic even Suarez. It seems like many other managers­ and teams are getting their signings right, whereas­ Wegner isn't. I do feel you're being a bit­ harsh on the team though, I'm guessing your a fan?­ Vermaelen and Szczesny are both top players, and­ Podolski should fit right in. Arsenal do seem to be a­ bit lacklustre down the wings though, and Wallcott has­ never quite lived up to the hype

    From Sean, on Mon 4 Jun 17:00
  15. Gareth. I think your right. Gervinho was amazing for­ lille and performs well for Ivory coast. Mertersacker.­ He's hard to judge. He made a name for himself in­ Germany and seems to have been around for ages. I just­ think they both need time like you said. Wenger has­ signed some great players but they never perform or­ feature :s Like Andre Santos. I watched him a few times­ playing for Brazil prior to joining Arsenal and I­ thought he seemed an exciting LB. But since joining he­ hasn't really featured much then got injured so­ yeah.. I remember the days of Bergkamp and Henry up­ front.. Now that was a great team to watch.

    From John, on Mon 4 Jun 16:59
  16. Sean# Yeah not necessarily Arsenal but it was just an­ example. With Arsenal interested and Wenger kean on­ french players. I'm not so sure who he'd be­ perfect for. Newcastles a good shout but then Tiote and­ Cabaye are already great in the middle playing­ together. Maybe they can play him behind the two with­ Gutierrez and Ben Arfa down the wing and Cisse as the­ forward with Demba Ba dropping to the bench. That would­ actually work well. Not sure about united though. But­ yeah i can still see Gustavo featuring a lot next­ season for Bayern but we'll see. I hope so anyway.­ aha

    From John, on Mon 4 Jun 16:51
  17. Well to be fair Gervinho and Mertesacker have only had­ 1 full season in the EPL. I say give them another­ season to let them prove themselves. Remember it takes­ alot of time for some people to feel settled. Of course­ some people can't just get used to the culture, so­ it may never work. I have to agree with you though­ Wengers buys recently haven't exactly been­ exciting. Thats maybe because of were Arsenal are at.­ It feels a very long time since they actually mounted­ any sort of real challenge for the title. Once upon a­ time Arsenal were full of strength and depth but­ recently thats been very much lacking. I remember such­ names as Bergkamp, Cole, Vieira, Petit, Overmars,­ Henry, Wright, Fabregas etc Now I look at that Arsenal­ team and the only real quality I see is Van Persie.­ Sure theres alot of youth at Arsenal but surely he has­ to spend on real proven quality? This sort of talent­ would help develop the youth.

    From Gareth, on Mon 4 Jun 16:49
  18. @John. Agree about M'Villa being at the stage of­ his career where he needs to move on, not sure if­ Arsenal would be the best choice though, as­ Wegner's got a bit of a record of not being able to­ get the best out of imported players recently, Gervinho­ and Mertersacker spring to mind. Add to that the­ possibility of Wilshere coming back, and Song's­ good form, he could struggle for a place in the team.­ Newcastle could be a shout, though I doubt they could­ afford him, and with Ashley in charge they could be­ dismantled in the summer(I hope he tries to build on­ the team). United could be a good shout for his­ development, as he should end up straight in the first­ team, with Fergie and Scholes there to aid his­ development. Still not sure about Gustavo at Bayern, I­ expect Emre Can to start featuring for the senior squad­ soon, and I think the Bayern board see him as­ Batian's replacement.

    From Sean, on Mon 4 Jun 16:36
  19. Dat Gunner I honestly think France are better­ defensively than what England are right now. I think it­ will be a tough game but the French team are stronger­ on paper.

    From Gareth, on Mon 4 Jun 16:34
  20. France clearly have the stronger team but with that­ defence England could slip a goal in or two, i cant­ wait to see this game it should decide who wins the­ group

    From Portgas D. Gunner?, on Mon 4 Jun 15:47
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