The hosts of the Euro 2016 Championships will be looking at nothing other than lifting the trophy in their own back yard. France come into Euro 2016 as 7/2 joint favourites and value or not Les Bleus will surely be at the top of many punters watch lists, the issue many of these guys will have though is the lack of recent competitive form due to France hosting the tournament and therefore gaining automatic qualification.
France, however, have had more than enough friendly internationals over the last 2 years and will be primed and ready to go out and take their best chance of winning an international tournament for over 10 years.
A dream finish to the tournament would be the cup being held high in Paris by Hugo Lloris after a French victory and it will be a great achievement if Les Bleus were to pull it off, but the competition is stiff and France will have to up their performances ten fold from their most recent competitive outings.
A poor showing in both the 2014 World Cup and the 2012 Euro's means that this side will have to produce vast improvement over the previous squads to be anywhere near getting to Paris, but with home comforts and a new look side it may be possible for the fairytale finish.
The group stages will hopefully settle their nerves as France will undoubtedly be a tiny bit jittery as the eyes of a nation focus on the blue shirts on the 10th June, but with lower class opposition such as Romania and Albania being first up, you would have to fancy that a near certain 6 points from their first 2 games would undoubtedly settle both fans and players alike. From there nothing is beyond France and they could potentially march all the way if they can find their best competition form that has been lacking in years gone by.
|Germany||1988||Did not qualify||-|
|Belgium / Netherlands||2000||Champions||1|
|Austria / Switzerland||2008||Group Stage||15|
|Poland / Ukraine||2012||Quarter-Finals||8|
For an established side such as France there is a definite lack of consistency in their Euro Championships form, although they have won on home soil in 1984, this was sandwiched between two tournaments in which they failed to qualify. Having last become Champions in the year 2000, France have every chance this time around, back on home soil with a mostly revamped team, they could make the errors of the past fade into a distant memory.
|10.06.16||20.00||France||2 - 1||Romania|
|11.06.16||14.00||Albania||0 - 1||Switzerland|
|15.06.16||17.00||Romania||1 - 1||Switzerland|
|15.06.16||20.00||France||2 - 0||Albania|
|19.06.16||20.00||Romania||0 - 1||Albania|
|19.06.16||20.00||Switzerland||0 - 0||France|
The eyes of the world will be on Group A on the 10th June as France open the tournament against Romania, France will then play both Switzerland and Albania in what is a tricky group for Les Bleus. Although favourites to qualify top, if France do suffer from the pressure of hosting the tournament like many teams have done in the past have, then the seemingly easy fixtures in this group could become hazardous.
Below is a list of the 4 teams drawn in Group A and their FIFA World Ranking, as you can see, Romania and Switzerland are ranked higher than France due to the fact France qualified for Euro 2016 automatically as host nation. Hence haven't picked up any ranking points recently, but in truth, France are streets ahead in terms of overall quality and experience.
France v Romania kicks off the tournament on 10th June 2016 at 20.00 GMT broadcast live on ITV, Romania were unbeaten in qualifying and must be respected, however as with the coming game against Albania this French side should have far too much in terms of quality for the opposing B league players and will be expected to blow both sides away.
The group decider will be against Switzerland on 19th June in the last game of Group A. The Swiss are coming off an impressive World Cup in Brazil and may fancy their chances of upsetting the odds when they face the French. It will undoubtedly be a difficult game and one that could produce one of the early shocks of Euro 2016.
France have been installed as the bookies favourites to win both Group A and the entire tournament, the pressure will be huge and the fans expectations nothing short of Euro 2016 glory, anything other than topping the group will be a major disappointment. Their main group competition will come from Switzerland who haven't had the greatest qualifying campaign compared to previous. With 6 points being very likely from the games against Romania and Albania a draw may even be good enough against the Swiss to win the group and set up an easy last 16 clash.
As France qualified automatically due to be being the tournament hosts, the table below shows the number of goals scored during recent international friendlies, but this still gives us a good idea as to who are the biggest goal threats.
Star striker Karim Benzema heads the list but has been omitted from the squad due to recent accusations and a subsequent investigation of his involvement in an alleged blackmail plot against fellow French international Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape. But with goalscoring options coming from Olivier Giroud and the midfield men of Griezmann and Paul Pogba, France must be fancied to give any defence a hard time.
|Antoine Griezmann||25||Midfield / Forward||3|
France will be extremely hopeful of a good showing at Euro 2016. Home advantage will surely be a plus if they can handle the pressure and if the home support can be turned into a positive, then France will take some stopping. The group stages will be no problem for a squad with the strength and depth of France, and the same will apply again when the French reach the last 16, as you would expect them to be group A winners and therefor be drawn against the 3rd place finisher of Group C, D or E.
If the hosts can build momentum and take this through into the Semis and then the Final, there is every chance that France could lift the coveted trophy and become champions in their own back yard.
There are many players to look out for in the French squad but maybe a new addition to the team could prove to be most influential. Dmitri Payet has been setting the English Premier League alight this season and if he can transfer the form he has shown for West Ham onto the international stage, France would be a force to be fearful of. A playmaker of the highest quality, Payet will be looking to assist players of the caliber of Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, and if allowed a consistent run in the team this diminutive Frenchman could provide the difference between success and failure.
With a new generation of hungry young players coming through the ranks, France have the ideal balance of youth and experience. With quality throughout the team, France have a solid spine - based on strength, skill, power and pace. Look for lightening fast counter-attacks and a solid defensive base with the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud looking to score the goals that will take France all the way to the Final.