They won the European Championships in the year 2000 after winning the World Cup in ’98 having hosted both tournaments, but the ball game is different in 2016. France don’t quite possess the team capable of winning a World Cup and Euros in a roll. Or even win either. The team back then was of far greater quality than the current team. From Barthez, to Desailly, Makélélé, Vieira, Zidane and a formidable partnership of Trezeguet and Henry upfront. Pogba, Kante and Payet are definitely standout qualities within the team, but they aren’t enough. Despite topping group A with 7 points, not many see the host as clear favorites to win the competition. They don’t ooze such quality, and I don’t see them winning either. Here are my reasons why:
Lack of sharpness in the final third
The issue isn’t about Benzema’s suspension, it is about the fact that France have lacked a lethal finisher upfront for a while now. Even the Real Madrid striker has gone rusty of late, and not many have ever regarded him as lethal in front of goal. Definitely not Giroud or Gignac. That lack of sharpness and exquisite finishing in front of goal will cost them henceforth. They have been lucky 3 times already, they won’t be again. It could be in the final. Or even pitifully before it. A team like Italy will simply soak up the pressure and convert 1 or 2 of their own chances.
A faulty rearguard
When the likes of Varane, Zouma and Sakho became unavailable for selection, it spelt trouble for France defensively. Not even Barcelona’s Mathieu who picked up a knock days before the finals was going to be good enough. The Rami-Koscielny partnership at the heart of the defence isn’t solid enough, neither is the full-back duo of Evra and Sagna. The rearguard has enjoyed the covering of Kanté and Matuidi, but will they be able to when consistently called to action by the likes of Germany, Spain or even Belgium?
Luck won’t be on their side all the time
The opening 2 games might have easily ended in draws. France can’t be counting on lady luck each time and expect to win subsequent games (let alone a tournament). A team like Spain has won convincingly, Belgium too. Italy like France have also had to bank on luck, and it would be a game of the luckier if both meet. Deschamps will definitely be worried given his side’s performances. They haven’t been really convincing on the ball, and that could spell doom.
Some players will be unavailable when needed most
As it stands, no member of the starting 11 will miss the next round either by suspension or injuries. It is definitely great news for Deschamps, but he will surely miss 1 of the most important players when he needs them most. It might not necessarily be through the aforementioned reasons, though that will most likely happen, but maybe a Pogba will decide to have a bad day or a Payet won’t just click when he ought to. There aren’t enough quality options on the bench to take their place in these situations.
They are beatable
Simple enough. A potential champion doesn’t look vulnerable and “defeatable”. France tick both. Even a fumbling Germany and Portugal don’t look vulnerable yet. Italy, Poland, England and Croatia will beat this France side on a good day. This isn’t to undermine their quality, but to point out their evident flaws. Come July 10, Lloris won’t be the one lifting that European Championships trophy. That’s for sure.