Population 66.5 million Area 674,843km2 Capital Paris Currency Euro Official Language French
Football Asocciation Fédération Française de Football (FFF) Official Site http://www.fff.fr Year of formation 1919 Euro Ranking 6 World Ranking 14 National Stadium Stade de Frane, Paris Well-known club sides Olympique Lyonnais, Marseille, Bordeaux, PSG, Lille Leading goalscorers Thierry Henry (51), Michel Platini (41), David Trezequet (34) Most capped players Lilian Thuram (142), Thierry Henry (123), Marcel Desailly (116) European Championship finals attended 1960, 1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 Best European Championship performance Winners 1984, 2000 Playing Record in European Championship P130 W73 D33 L24 Odds of winning UEFA EURO 2012 12/1
JOURNEY TO POLAND/UKRAINE
Scrolling down a group that included Bosnia-Herzegovina, Romania, Belarus, Albania and Luxembourg, it is of little surprise France finished top, though the manner of their qualification will not make them one of the favourites in Poland/Ukraine.
Qualification wasn’t as elementary as pundits had initially foreseen and Les Bleus only narrowly avoided an unwanted play-off (in which they would have faced Portugal) after a tense final group game with Bosnia. Needing a draw to cement their spot at the Euros by one point, the 2000 champions laboured against an uncompromising Bosnian side, who took the lead just before half-time.
Luckily, a coolly dispatched Samir Nasri penalty, 13 minutes from the end, secured the draw the French needed and they pipped the brave Bosnians (who would lose to Portugal) to a place in the tournament proper.
Les Bleus’ 10 qualifying game consisted of six wins, three draws and a disappointing home defeat bu Belarus. Form-wise, the French still aren’t performing to the level they would like and the golden era of 1998-2000, which saw them clinch the World Cup and European Championship, is in danger of becoming a distant memory.
But write France off at your peril. In players such as Franck Ribéry, Karim Benzema and Nasri, coach Laurent Blanc has more than enough quality available to turn back the clock.
HOW THEY GOT THERE
03/09/2010 – Group D – France 0-1 Belarus
07/09/2010 – Group D – Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-2 France
09/10/2010 – Group D – France 2-0 Romania
12/10/2010 – Group D – France 2-0 Luxembourg
25/03/2011 – Group D – Luxembourg 0-2 France
03/06/2011 – Group D – Belarus 1-1 France
02/09/2011 – Group D – Albania 1-2 France
06/09/2011 – Group D – Romania 0-0 France
07/10/2011 – Group D – France 3-0 Albania
11/10/2011 – Group D – France 1-1 Bosnia-Herzegovina
HOME AND AWAY KITS
GROUP FIXTURES – GROUP D
Sunday, 11/06 – France v England (Donetsk, 17:00)
Friday, 15/06 – Ukraine v France (Donetsk, 17:00)
Tuesday, 19/06 – France v Sweden (Kiev, 19:45)
Goalkeepers: Cédric Carrasso (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyonnais), Steve Mandanda (Olympique de Marseille).
Defenders: Gaël Clichy (Manchester City FC), Mathieu Debuchy (LOSC Lille Métropole), Patrice Evra (Manchester United FC), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal FC), Philippe Mexès (AC Milan), Adil Rami (Valencia CF), Anthony Réveillère (Olympique Lyonnais).
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United FC), Alou Diarra (Olympique de Marseille), Florent Malouda (Chelsea FC), Marvin Martin (FC Sochaux-Montbéliard), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Yann M’Vila (Stade Rennais FC), Samir Nasri (Manchester City FC).
Forwards: Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United FC), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid CF), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier Hérault SC), Jérémy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Franck Ribéry (FC Bayern München), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique de Marseille).
THE CAPTAIN & THE KEEPER – HUGO LLORIS
As a nation, France can’t boast a strong rostrum of keepers, but young Hugo Lloris has proved himself a worthy candidate to change that perception. First-choice keeper throughout France’s qualifying campaign, he kept an impressive six clean sheets and only conceded for goals in the 10 games. Was rumoured to be on Alex Ferguson’s goalkeeper shortlist last year.
THE MIDFIELD MAESTRO – YANN M’VILA
Though only 21 years of age, Yann M’Vila has already demonstrated a level of ability and responsibility beyong his years. Taking over the captaincy of France for the majority of their qualifying games, the defensive midfielder has attracted enviable glares from a whole host of top clubs, whose pursuits will no doubt get stronger should he fit and perform well here.
STAR MAN – FRANCK RIBERY
Sought after in the past by the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea, Franck Ribéry was once described by Zinedine Zidane as ‘the jewel of French football.’A summation like that from one of the most celebrated players who has ever lived gives you a measure of just how strong an asset Ribéry is to the French side. Blistering pace, superb dribbling ability and a keen eye for goal makes the Bayern winger one of the most dangerous prospects at the championships. With his creativity and quickness of though, players such as Karim Benzema will come alive.
THE MANAGER – LAURENT BLANC
Since taking the reins of a national side with rifts the size of the River Seine, Laurent Blanc has restored much-needed order to Les Bleus, calming the multinous factions in the camp, engedering a pack-like camaraderie and heading up a long unbeaten spell through qualification. The real test, obviously, still lies ahead – and, to succeed. Blanc (a former Euro winner himself) must banish the bad memores of South Africa 2010, continue to get the best out of a highly talented squad and reach the semi-finals, at least.
Semi-finals – Les Bleus play England in the opening group match of Group D and with Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two group games, France are the favourites to win the group ahead of England. Winning the group would set a quarter-final clash against Italy and a win in the repeat of the 2006 FIFA World Cup final could set up a semi-fnal date with Holland. The form both the teams are in, the semi-finals will be a mouth watering clash.