|France should excel at the World Cup but will they shrug off the curse of the defending champions? (Photo credit: GOAL)|
France is heading to the World Cup with the burden of the curse of the defending champions but can they rise above the demon they started in 2002?
Twenty years ago in Seoul, Korea, France lost their opening game to Senegal in a shocking development and eventually crashed out in the group stage without scoring a single goal despite going into the tournament as favorites and with three golden boot winners from Premier League (Thierry Henry) Serie A (David Trezeguet) and Ligue 1 (Djibril Cisse).
A few pundits believe France can go all the way and be the first nation to retain the World Cup title in modern era but are they strong enough to win it? Can they beat the likes of Brazil, Argentina and Portugal to the World Cup crown?
What is their greatest strength?
As it stands, it’s pedigree. The fact they have lots of talented players who are sharpening their teeth in top leagues will come handy at pivotal points. Experience across the pitch in Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud upfront, Hugo Lloris in goal and the mix of youthfulness all round would help.
Why won’t they win it?
Beyond the curse of the champions, France have been underwhelming of late. Team cohesion that helped them at the last tournament seems lacking and the manager may have plateaued after spending so long at the helm.
Why will they win it?
Kyllian Mbappe is a good reason for them to win it, William Saliba is a great reason for them to win it as well as the Real Madrid duo of Edouard Camavinga and Aurelio Tchoumeni. Injection of agile talents can prove the difference in Qatar.
How will they line up?
France will be without a host of top stars like Ngolo Kante and Paul Pogba but the two Real Madrid boys could suffice in the middle of the park. If fit, Benzema is expected to lead the line and he will be flanked by Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.
Defense is assured with Saliba likely to partner Varane in the absence of Presnel Kimpembe. The Hernandez siblings will get their chance but Benjamin Pavard has right back locked. Didier Deschamps will not have any excuse in Qatar.
France will kick off their campaign against Australia before playing Denmark and Tunisia. It’s a relatively cheap group but they lost to Denmark twice in the UEFA Nations League and even fell off the radar early in the group. Can they fix up in Qatar?