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France: Quality in abundance, but is the plan good enough?

12 June 2018
France bring a frightening squad to the FIFA World Cup, with high quality players in abundance. Will Didier Deschamps be able to form a winning game strategy in Russia? Remiqz takes a look at France’s chances of glory this summer.
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Chances of winning

Using our unique simulation tool, Remiqz is able to predict the course of the FIFA World Cup. According to our calculations, there is a 12.5% chance that France will win the tournament this summer. This makes them the third most likely team to fly home with the cup.

France find themselves in Group C, which is not the hardest group at the tournament, but still holds some potential difficulties. Les Bleus start off against Australia, who are seriously lacking in quality. Peru and Denmark will be somewhat harder nuts to crack, but France do have a much stronger squad than both. Our calculations give France a whopping 98.1% chance of progressing to the last 16.

Selection

France’s superstars are Antoine Griezmann (EPI: 5063) and Paul Pogba (EPI: 4710). Due to their sheer volume of attacking talent, you would almost forget that France have one of the finest center back pairings present in Russia with the likes of Samuel Umtiti (EPI: 4849) and Raphael Varane (EPI: 4729).

The best player that’s not going to Russia EPI-wise is Karim Benzema (EPI: 4712). He is banned from Les Bleus by manager Didier Deschamps ever since he was involved in blackmailing scandal with Mathieu Valbuena. PSG’s impressive midfielder Adrien Rabiot (EPI: 4353) also didn’t make the cut, albeit for sportive reasons rather than misbehavior off the pitch.

Style of play

With this France squad, the key word is balance. Comparable to Belgium’s Roberto Martínez, the biggest task for Didier Deschamps is to cram all these gifted attacking individuals in a concept at team level that brings the best out of all of them. France have switched between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3, which are two minor variations of a very logical basic formation. Deschamps seems to have his mind on 4-3-3, because Pogba is able to excel a little more in this formation.

Hugo Lloris, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane and N’Golo Kanté are very likely to start and form the defensive spine of the team. Who will play as full backs remains uncertain and also depends on who will play in midfield. For example, if Matuidi completes the midfield trio alongside Pogba and Kanté, it makes more sense to play Benjamin Mendy as a left back because of his attacking prowess. If Atletico Madrid’s Lucas Hernández makes the cut, Corentin Tolisso makes more sense in midfield because of his creativity. The attacking options are frightening, with Antoine Griezmann, Kyllian Mbappé, Ousmane Dembélé, Nabil Fekir, Olivier Giroud, Florian Thauvin and Thomas Lemar all battling for three starting spots.

Deschamps is very much a ‘go with the flow’-manager during big tournaments. In EURO 2016 for example, France won games with Moussa Sissoko and Samuel Umtiti unexpectedly featuring in the squad and Deschamps never dropped them again. It remains to be seen what his solution will be this time; what’s sure is that France is a big candidate to win the tournament and will probably offer some entertaining football during their time in Russia.

(Images by Pro Shots)