Euro 2012: spotlight on France
- 05 June 2012 12:38
- Posted by Mark Booth
Les Bleus are ready to shake off their disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign that ended in mutinous disgrace in South Africa.
This is the most promising crop of players the country has boasted since they won the World Cup and European Championships in 1998 and 2000. That team’s captain Laurent Blanc is now head coach and he’ll be hoping that the Rainbow Team 2.0 are ready to go far in this year’s championships.
There are question marks against the team’s defence, with Raimi and Mexes under scrutiny at centre-half but the team boasts an explosive forward line, spearheaded by Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.
The City connection: Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy
City have two players representing France at the tournament and while Samir Nasri is a dead-cert to start the opening match against England, Gael Clichy knows that his place in the XI is yet to be assured.
Gael’s cause was helped by long-term left-back Patrice Evra’s error-strewn performance against Iceland in the previous match. Evra was badly at fault for both Icelandic goals and he’ll be sweating on his prospects of starting June 11’s showdown with England.
Clichy and Nasri aren’t the first Gallic Manchester City players. Laurent Charvet, David Sommeil, Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, Sylvain Distin, Ousmane Dabo, Christian Negouai and Antoine Sibierski all played for City in the Premier League.
The boss: Laurent Blanc
The decorated captain of the 1998 World Cup winners was one of Europe’s best defenders in his playing days and he’s taken to management just as smoothly.
Blanc won Ligue 1 with Bordeaux in 2009 before taking over as manager of the national team after World Cup 2010. He guided France to the top of their qualifying group for Euro 2012 and coached them to friendly wins over England, Brazil and Germany.
One to watch: Yann M’Vila
Yann M’Vila is an injury worry for the first match against England after he picked up an ankle knock in the friendly against Serbia.
It’s a huge concern for France as the Rennes defensive midfielder is one of their most promising players and there are fears that Yann Cabaye may not be able to protect the defence all on his own.
Key player: Karim Benzema
The Real Madrid striker has recovered from a difficult first season at the Bernabeu to cement his reputation as one of Europe’s most feared strikers.
Equally adept with both feet and comfortable playing with his back to goal, Benzema is a sound bet for the Golden Boot award.
Odds to win via Paddy Power: 10/1
Goalkeepers: Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).
Defenders: Gaël Clichy (Manchester City), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Philippe Mexes (Milan), Adil Rami (Valencia), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon).
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Alou Diarra (Marseille), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Marvin Martin (Sochaux), Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain), Yann M'vila (Rennes), Samir Nasri (Manchester City).
Forwards: Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Jeremy Menez (Paris St Germain), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).