COACH – Didier Deschamps
BEST SHOWING – Winners 1998
QUALIFICATION – 2nd in UEFA Qualifying Group I, defeated Ukraine in a play-off.
TOURNAMENT ODDS – 25/1 (Coral, BetVictor, BoyleSports)
June 15th – Honduras (2000 BST, Porto Alegre, BBC)
June 20th – Switzerland (2000 BST, Salvador, ITV)
June 25th – Ecuador (2100 BST, Rio de Janeiro, BBC)

Button Switzerland Button Ecuador Button Honduras


It’s hard to fathom the French nowadays. In previous tournaments they’ve been unpredictable, from the defending champions bowing out and losing to Senegal in 2002 to Raymond Domenech’s no-hopers making the final in 2006 to a controversial play-off win and an embarrassing campaign in South Africa.

One criticism that has been thrown at France is the lack of fight when the odds are against them. They went a small way to proving the doubters wrong, showing a lot of tenacity to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Ukraine just to get to Brazil.

Didier Deschamps adopted a new tactical setup in that second leg, moving from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3. The reliable Hugo Lloris leads the side from the back with Mickael Landreau and Stephane Ruffier providing the back-up after Steve Mandanda’s withdrawal. But Deschamps has struggled to settle on a defensive partnership – Raphael Varane and Mamadou Sakho seem to be his preferred duo but neither have been regulars for their club this season.

Patrice Evra and Mathieu Debuchy are the full back pairing but both are coming off disappointing seasons for their club.

Midfield looks far stronger with the 4-3-3 suiting the games of Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Yohan Cabaye. Not the easiest to break down or get past but capable of getting forward with blistering speed, Franck Ribery has started to look the part for France under Deschamps chipping in with five goals during qualifying and along with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema the French will look to these two for goals.

Matuidi in particular has been a find. He’s capable of dominating a midfield battle physically and has the technical tools to match, while his knack of intercepting and creating counter attacks has been helpful to Paris Saint Germain’s cause this year.

Along with a new tactical approach, Deschamps will take no nonsense and has looked to forge a squad unity that has been sorely lacking in recent French teams. Players like Samir Nasri have found out the hard way Deschamps is not to be messed with.

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05 WORLD CUP POGBAWith Manchester United’s struggles this season and the benefit of hindsight, the decision to let Paul Pogba go looks to be a foolish one.

He’s had a breakthrough season with the Old Lady of Italian football this year and his dynamic style of play has complemented Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo perfectly. Nicknamed The Octopus because of his long legs, Pogba has the tools to be one of the top midfielders in world football. He has good vision, he’s difficult to dispossess, strong in the air and a very skilful player who loves to run with the ball.

This is Pogba’s first major tournament and he’s got a good cast around him. This World Cup could cement his reputation as a rising star.


This is the least fancied French side I’ve seen in a long time. Even the 2006 side led by Domenech were Zidane-inspired but Deschamps has made them a tricky outfit to deal with and they’re a tougher side than they once were. This France side have a bit of fight in them to match the talent.

Defence is a weak spot but if Deschamps can find the winning formula for that and if Pogba, Matuidi and Cabaye can control the game and possession it will limit the problem.

Mentality has also been a question mark but this French squad seem unified and come into Brazil with little expectation to do well and a group that isn’t the toughest. 

If everything clicks for the French no-one will relish facing them and they could be a dark horse in the tournament.

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They should win Group E and advance.

At the very best they’ll reach the last four – a more likely fate will be a quarter final exit.

world cup Brasil emblem 01

Danier Deschamps (D-Good)
Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83

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