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Euro 2024 build up: France

France are looking to avenge their sub-par Euro 2020 display at Euro 2024.

Coming off the back of a historic World Cup win in 2018, France were heavy favourites for Euro 2020 (played in 2021 thanks to the pandemic).

However, after making it out of their group with just one win and two draws, Les Bleus fell to Switzerland in the shock result of the Round of 16.

Infighting and drama surrounded the national side after this disaster but they largely got their act together for the 2022 World Cup.

Didier Deschamps’ side made it all the way to the final in Qatar before being outdone by Lionel Messi and co. via penalties.

France will, of course, not have to deal with Argentina at Euro 2024, so how are they shaping up heading into the tournament?

France have played five games since their loss to Argentina. They won all five games without conceding a single goal, with the 4-0 drubbing of the Netherlands the highlight of the games.

That win means the 2018 World Cup winners sit top of Group B after five games, nine points clear of 3rd-place Greece who have played one less match.

Despite the great run of form since the World Cup final defeat, though, France do still have problems in their squad.

One of those issues was heavily exposed during the 2022 campaign in Qatar as Descamps continuously opts to start Dayot Upamecano.

The centre-back’s ball-playing ability it second to none at times but Upamecano has developed quite the reputation for committing errors in big games. We have seen this for Bayern Munich in the Champions League and on numerous occasions at the 2022 World Cup. One such instance came in the quarter-finals of the World Cup last year when the stopper brought down Harry Kane. Kane fell inside the box but VAR deemed the foul to have been committed outside the box. Had the decision gone the other way, however, Upamecano could have easily cost France the tie.

Upamecano’s continued inclusion in the France XI is made even more baffling with William Saliba – one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League – being left on the France bench time and time again.

Further forward, France’s 2018 World Cup-winning midfield of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante is a thing of the past due to injuries, ageing and drops in form.

This has seen Deschamps opt for Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrian Rabiot as his new holding midfield pair.

Tchouameni appears to be the correct successor to Kante but Rabiot is again something of an inconsistent wild card. Eduardo Camavinga is finally starting to get a regular run in midfield for Real Madrid this season, so it will be interesting to see if he is handed more minutes for France in the coming months.

Finally, Deschamps will have to make a major decision with his no.9 ahead of next summer. Olivier Giroud is France’s all-time top goalscorer and continues to be the main man for France up top. However, he will be 37 later this month and his time at the top of the game is running out.

Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani are the two main candidates to replace Giroud but neither player has been given much of a chance to do so. Thuram has made 11 appearances for France and scored one goal, but only completed 90 minutes in one of those outings.

Kolo Muani has a similar record, scoring once in nine outings whilst completing 90 minutes just twice.

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Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.

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