Team Profile: France
Colours: Blue shirts, white shorts, red socks
Nickname: Les Bleus (The Blues)
Previous World Cup appearances: (12) 1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best World Cup performance: Winners 1998
Coach: Raymond Domenech
Most capped player: Lilian Thuram 142
Top scorer: Thierry Henry 51
FIFA Ranking (Nov 09) : 10
France has got a big history with the World Cup. In 1958 France finished third with great players like Just Fontaine, who retains the record of goals scored in a final phase of the World Cup with 13 goals. France also finished third in 1986 and fourth in 1982. So Les Bleus have a recent history with the World Cup, winning on home soil against Brazil in 1998 (3-0) and finishing second in 2006. Everybody remembers this match that France should have won but for Zinedine Zidane's moment of madness.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Not the greatest way to qualify we must admit. Thierry Henry's hand has been broadcasted all over the world and a lot of people think that France should not be in South Africa. France has always struggled to qualify for these big events but is here for the fourth time in a row, a record for the country. They made a bad start, defeated in Austria (3-1), playing very bad football. They have been unlucky like in Romania (2-2) and had a big match against Serbia (1-1) where France played with ten men for most of the game after Lloris sent off at the eighth minute. Against Ireland in the playoffs, France had the opportunities to score two goals in Croke Park but finally were in danger at Paris. Very hard qualification for Les Bleus.
France have a great team...on paper. Players in the biggest clubs of the world (Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal, OL, Barcelona...), so the team has a real potential to manage a great world cup. France have a great attacking team with Anelka, Ribery, Henry, Benzema, Gourcuff. Maybe the biggest attacking side on the paper of the world cup. They have a lot of experience and 2006 competition show the importance of this.
Les Bleus have not found the good balance in central defense. Gallas is good but Abidal is not a central defender. So more than the quality of the players, the relationship on the pitch is not good. In France we think that Squillacci (Sevilla) should be the central defender with Gallas. And finally we have Raymond Domenech, who is a weakness!
Raymond Domenech : Maybe the most hated person in the world of football. He made a lot of errors in the past, less now but his management is very unpredictable. There is not to much debate in France about the players he choose but how he manage the team is a question that nobody can answer. It should be his last competition at the head of the team.
Thierry Henry: This campaign against him is very unfair for a player who has been fair his entire career. World Cup 2010 is his last challenge with the national jersey. He is simply the biggest scorer in History of Les Bleus (51 goals!) and should be THE leader of the team. He is now the captain instead of Patrick Vieira.
Franck Ribéry: The Bayern Munich midfielder has a difficult season because of injuries. For a lot of observers he is the true boss on the pitch. This is sure that the team is not the same with him and without him. We encountered a lot of difficulties to qualify because Ribery was not there, this is sure.
Nicolas Anelka: He finally manages to go to a World Cup, his first appearance! He is in the shape of his life and showed it against Ireland and all this year 2009. Anelka has never participated to this event and will be motivated in consequence. He is a leader on the pitch but not in the locker room.
No doubt that during two years France dominated the world with 1998 World Cup Victory at Stade de France and Euro 2000 victory against our friends of Italy. The first time in history that a team won World Cup and European Championship in a row.
Famour for: France is famous for its food, its beautiful country, Fashion, its contradictions! Les Bleus are also World Champions and Olympic Champions at handball! Paris is the most visited City in the world.
Most likely to: make a bad start in the competition and struggle in group phase before finally win big matches...
France is there to win the World Cup. They have the players to do it, maybe not the coach. But for sure France will be a team to avoid and do not fear any team. They key will be Ribery. If he is at full strength, for sure Les Bleus will not be far of the title again. Thierry Henry best goalscorer would be a wonderful answer to the criticism.