After a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Bulgaria in Paris, France ensured they would stroll into the European Championships with their chests puffed out as they look to add to World Cup they won in Russia in 2018.
The world champions are favourites among most observers ahead of the tournament, and even faced with the ‘group of death’ featuring holders Portugal and Germany, as well as Hungary, confidence in their chances of going all the way hasn’t been dented.
Victory in their final warm-up match saw Antoine Griezmann open the scoring before substitute Olivier Giroud struck twice late to set things up almost perfectly for the coming weeks.
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Can anything stop them? Eurosport France’s Martin Mosnier takes one final look at the team before the competition begins.
Given the strength of France’s forward line without Giroud, what role will he be expected to play?
Rule number 1 in this team: never underestimate Giroud. The 34-year-old is now just five goals behind France's all-time top scorer Thierry Henry but will likely be benched with Benzema’s return. It must be remembered that Didier Deschamps started the 2018 World Cup (against Australia) without Giroud, but with Ousmane Dembele, before reconsidering the situation.
Giroud played a crucial role by featuring in every game – even without scoring – in the 2018 World Cup triumph. But now, it will be much more difficult. Benzema has not returned to sit on the bench and Mbappé is much better with Benzema than with Giroud.
Giroud was on target again for France
Image credit: Getty Images
He is closing in on Thierry Henry's record as France's top goalscorer. But how is he generally perceived by the French? Is he even considered among the greats?
No. In France, there are pros and cons and you have to choose your side. Giroud is both the second top scorer in the history of Les Bleus but also the centre forward who failed to score a goal as France won the 2018 World Cup. Yet Deschamps’ insistence on picking him before, during and after that competition shows that his game is about so much more than finding the net.
In my opinion, he is a vital figure for Les Bleus and does unheralded defensive work too. But the fans have often criticized him for the absence of Benzema. Which is totally stupid.
Deschamps went very attack-minded against Bulgaria. Is this how he will approach games generally, especially considering the quality of the opposition in the group stage?
He will keep this 4-4-2 and Kanté will take care of the rest. He gives a lot of freedom to his midfield and his attack. The strength of this team is now its attack and Deschamps has been forced to adapt his plans.
Tolisso and Kanté will have to balance the team. But the strategy is risky, especially against Germany and Portugal. It doesn't look like what Deschamps usually does.
Deschamps willbe relying on Kante in midfield
Image credit: Getty Images
Did we learn anything else from the warm-up games?
Bulgaria and Wales were far too weak to draw any conclusions.
The wins only further strengthened the idea that France are favourites for the competition, but are they any potential weaknesses to be concerned about?
A weakness? What weakness? France coach Deschamps offers injury update on Benzema today. But otherwise, we have the best coach, the best attack in the world, the best midfielder... As you see, the real danger is too much self-confidence.
In France, we remember the 2002 World Cup. The Bleus had in their squad the Premier League (Thierry Henry), Serie A (David Trezeguet) and Ligue 1 (Djibril Cissé) top scorers. But the result? No goals and the worst humiliation in our history (after 2010 of course).
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