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Euro 2016: France fact file

EURO 2016: Golden Generation to go all the way?

EURO 2016: Golden Generation to go all the way?

Hosts France kick off the 15th edition of the European Championships on Friday night hoping to win the competition for the third time.

Didier Deschamps’ men are the bookies’ favourites to lift the trophy at the Stade de France on 10 July and, in doing so, replicate the achievements of 1984 and 2000.

The Group

Group A: France, Romania, Albania, Switzerland

France are clear favourites to progress in top spot and Switzerland will be fancied to qualify alongside them despite a less-than-convincing qualifying campaign.

Romania will set up with players behind the ball and could potentially frustrate the hosts, while Albania did beat France in a friendly back in June 2015, so perhaps Group A is potentially more dangerous than it appears on the surface.

City representatives

Eliaquim Mangala and Bacary Sagna

With Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri both out of favour with Didier Deschamps, City will have two representatives in the France squad in the shape of Eliaquim Mangala and Bacary Sagna.

Bacary’s place in the XI looks assured after he started all of the warm-up friendlies but Eliaquim Mangala will probably have to settle for a place on the bench when the tournament gets under way.

They say

Sagna: “The pressure is on us. We know Romania don't have big names, but they are players who have done well finishing second of their group with the best defence of all the qualifying teams. It'll be difficult for us and we will respect them.”

Key Player

Paul Pogba

What is it about talismanic French midfielders playing for Juventus?

In 1984 it was Michel Platini and it was Zinedine Zidane in 2000 – will Paul Pogba continue this lineage in 2016?

Pogba has it all and is arguably the best midfielder of his generation but there is a sense that he has underperformed in France shirt up to now.

With the lack of a natural no.10, it’s expected that Pogba will operate in a more advanced role than he’s employed in for his club and so the stage looks set for the 23-year old to answer his critics this summer.

The Coach

Didier Deschamps

He won the World Cup and the European Championships as a player and this surely represents his best chance to land a major international tournament as a coach.

It’s been a tough few months for the France boss off the field but recent performances on it have suggested that the 47-year old has found the right formula for success on home soil.

How they got there…

France qualified automatically as hosts.

Predicted XI

Lloris, Sagna, Rami, Koscielny, Evra, Kante, Matuidi, Pogba, Payet, Griezmann, Giroud

Why they’ll win

You only have to look at the players who probably won’t make the France XI to understand the strength in depth and, unlike some of the other major contenders, they have a squad all at the right age.

If they win a relatively straightforward group as they should, France will face one of the third-place teams from Groups C, D or E, meaning they should have a clear run at the last eight. 

Why they might not

If France have a weakness, it’s in defence. Aside from the comfortable 3-0 friendly win over Scotland last time out, they have a nasty habit of conceding soft goals. They shipped at least two in the four games prior to the Scotland win.

Schedule

Friday 10 June: France v Romania, 8pm

Wednesday 15 June: France v Albania, 8pm

Sunday 19 June: France v Switzerland, 8pm

Betsafe odds to win outright

3-1 (favourites)

First Team News

Euro 2016: France fact file

EURO 2016: Will hosts win for the first time in 16 years?

Hosts France kick off the 15th edition of the European Championships on Friday night hoping to win the competition for the third time.

Didier Deschamps’ men are the bookies’ favourites to lift the trophy at the Stade de France on 10 July and, in doing so, replicate the achievements of 1984 and 2000.

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