Putting My Money On Les Bleus For Euro 2016


France departed from this years World Cup at the Quarter Final stage without as much as a whimper. They struggled to breakdown Germany, who were telling with their added experience. But for me, the French side and the nation as a whole, can take heart from their overall World Cup performance.

They impressed enough for me to suggest that they can look forward to hosting the Euros in 2016 and being one of the favourites for that title.


Well their youth teams in recent years have impressed, winning the U20 World Cup last summer and finishing runners-up in the Toulon tournament this year.

If you look at the French squad that impressed in Brazil you’ll notice the majority of that squad are in their mid or early twenties. Only Mickael Landreau and Patrice Evra will be 35 or older come 2016.

Landreau was the French third choice goalkeeper and really was given a place in the squad due to his personality as much as his ability. Number one Hugo Lloris was superb and will only be twenty-nine in 2016. France have Marseille’s Steve Mandanda to come back from injury and a few talented goalies coming through the ranks too like PSG’s Alphonse Areola, Toulouse keeper Zacharie Boucher and Monaco man Paul Nardi.

As for Patrice Evra’s left-back spot. It looks like Lucas Digne is being groomed for that position. The twenty year old excelled in last summers U20 World Cup after establishing himself at Lille the season before. He would then join PSG in a deal worth around €15m. His first season at the Parc des Princes was an adjustment for the talent youngster as he was used in rotation with Maxwell. But when he played he impressed with his bursts forward, his crossing and his concentration at the back. The energetic full-back still has improvements to make in his game but Didier Deschamps brought him to the World Cup and gave him the full ninety minutes against Ecuador in the group stages. In the next two years Digne should be one of the brightest left backs in the world and in the Les Bleus squad for the 2016 Euros.

The French defence was strong with consistent defenders like Laurent Koscielny and Mamadou Sahko partnering pacey and composed centre back Raphael Varane. The Real Madrid defender oozes class and for me will soon be seen as the best central defender in the world. He was bullied by Mats Hummels when the Germans scored the winner in the quarter final match in Rio. But the twenty-one year old will only learn from that and come back stronger. It’ll also be interesting to see where Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala ends up by 2016 with Manchester City linked with a bid of £3om+ this preseason.

The midfield trio of Yohan Cabaye, Blaise Matuidi and Moussa Sissoko can all leave Brazil with their heads held high. They ran their collective socks off, were strong and helped both the attack and the defence with their endeavour. But it’s Paul Pogba that’s seen as the next big French midfield maestro. He is another one that went from winning the U20 World Cup to playing in the World Cup in the space of a year. He didn’t look out of place in Brazil, although he does need to watch for wind-up merchants and keep his temper in check. He isn’t scared of the ball or demanding it from teammates. He can drive forward with it, create chances and score goals. The twenty-one year old is also very good in the air. The multi-time Serie A winner already has fifteen caps for Les Bleus and scoring three times, including one at the World Cup against Nigeria. By 2016 he could be one of the world’s biggest footballing stars!

Out on the flanks Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Valbuena had good tournaments. Remy Cabella could be soon on the move to a bigger club and be pushing for more caps. World class wingman Frank Ribery can also come back from injury and help the young squad with his vital experience.

A major problem for the French seems to be finding a consistent number nine. Karim Benzema, Oliver Giroud and Loic Remy can all be world beaters on their day but they need to have their day more often. On the plus side for all them is that by 2016 they should all be hitting their peaks. But Remy needs to find a new club and the other two have to start having more influential moments with their clubs as well as the national team.

Plus lets not forget that Didier Deschamps has been there and won all the major international and clubs trophies going. At forty-five now, he will be key in helping this young pool of players flourish. He can hand down personal experiences of what its like winning a major international trophy on home soil and has proven this summer he will put the squads harmony ahead of selfish yet talented egos.

I have obviously mentioned quite a few talented stars who’ll have improved by the exposure of this World Cup and will now focus heavily on their own Euros, hoping to make it to the final in Paris on the 10th of July 2016.

But there are plenty more talented players out there that I’ve not mentioned like Morgan Schneiderlin, Kurt Zouma, Clement Grenier, Maxime Gonalons, Dimitri Payet, Etienne Capoue, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Joshua Guilavogui, Alexandre Lacazette, Andre Pierre Gignac, Florian Thauvin, Aymeric Laporte, Mathieu Debuchy, Paul-Georges Ntep, Yassine Benzia, Benjamin Mendy, Adrien Rabiot and M’Baye Niang. Some of those are young raw stars and some are a bit more experienced that may come in a do a job. Some will simply be seen as not being good enough by Deschamps and his coaching team, whilst others will be blooded into the pool in time for 2016. Also we will probably see a star that many of us haven’t heard of yet!

Obviously 2016 is still a long time away especially in the footballing world. By that time Spain will be back with a new generation of hungry stars, the Germans have quite a solid, youngish team too and maybe by the Euros Belgium will have learned how to play like a team and not as individuals. But I have to say if I were a betting man I’d certainly pick out France as my favourites. Didier Deschamps seems to be a good manager who understands the importance of youth plus experience and has worked out Les Bleus work better when the squad is united. The strength and depth of the squad is also very strong.

But don’t run out and put money on it, my predictions can be inconsistent to say the least. Although if I am right, I will definitely be shouting it from the rooftops hopefully in Paris!

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