Do France have the strongest World Cup squad? We analyse Les Bleus
Squad preview ahead of Russia
France are shaping up as one of the main contenders at the World Cup in Russia.
Les Bleus boast quality and experience all over the pitch and have a manager in Didier Deschamps who is now in his sixth season with the national side.
The one-time tournament winners are third-favourites at 6/1 to add victory in 2018 alongside their only previous success on home soil in 1998. The Coral News Team have analysed why…
Some critics would argue Deschamps’ 23-man-squad lacks experience. But we don’t think that quite holds up. An average age of 26 is hardly young and nine of the current crop also featured in the side that reached the Euro 2016 Final.
Five of the group have over a half-century of international caps which is more or less in line with the average for other nations. Of those that don’t, N’Golo Kante, Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane can hardly be considered newcomers to the big stage. They also have an exciting youth element, which the Coral News Team will come onto a bit later.
Recent World Cup winners have been built around a formidable spine.
Germany had Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Miroslav Klose in 2014. Spain could call upon Iker Casillas, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi and David Villa in 2010.
France’s 2018 squad has echoes of those great sides. A spine of Hugo Lloris, Varane, Kante, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann is as good as any in Russia this summer. Not only is it a quintet of genuine quality at the top-level. But it is also a quintet with considerable experience of winning major tournaments and cup competitions.
Whether Deschamps uses them effectively is another question. But on the face of it, Les Bleus have a core which should do some serious damage for a second major tournament in a row.
That spine is complimented by some of the world’s most exciting youth talents in the forward positions. Monaco products Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar are both likely starters for Deschamps’ side. They provide pace and goals from out wide or just behind the main striker in either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation.
Liverpool target Nabil Fekir falls into the same category after netting 21 goals in 38 matches for Lyon this season. He was also on target in France’s 2-0 friendly victory over the Republic of Ireland.
Barcelona ace Ousmane Dembele and Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso also offer exciting options off the bench.
Who are they up against?
Of course, France aren’t the only side that can call upon a blend of youth, experience and quality this summer. Joint-favourites Germany (9/2) are the archetypal tournament team and retain a solid core of the side that went all the way in Brazil four years ago.
Joachim Low has named six of the side that started the 2014 final against Argentina in his preliminary squad. They’re complimented by the likes of Timo Werner, Leon Goretzka and Leroy Sane this time around.
Brazil (9/2) should also go well with Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Casemiro to call upon, even with a suspect defence. A resurgent Spain (6/1) and Lionel Messi’s Argentina (9/1) are also among the favourites.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing