Holders France on a mission in Qatar
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ starts on 20 November
France play Australia in their opening match in Group D on 22 November
Can the defending champions hang on to their crown?
France, who were crowned world champions in Russia 2018, now face a formidable challenge: they must retain the FIFA World CupTM Trophy, something no other team has done in the previous 60 years.
Since Brazil's back-to-back championships in 1958 and 1962, the defending champions have never fared well in the competition that followed.
“We’ve got a massive task in front of us,” said Guy Stephan, assistant coach to Didier Deschamps, summing up the scale of the job they face. As Benjamin Pavard told FIFA+, "France are the team that everyone wants to beat".
Clevpicks.com will introduce you the French national football team...
However, the quality they have available in every area makes anything seem conceivable for the most recent iteration of Les Bleus. Hugo Lloris, the team's captain, might surpass Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele as the most capped players in France history in Qatar. France also has several more top players, like Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe, N'Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann, and N'Golo Kante.
Along with renowned names, the French also have an abundance of up-and-coming talent, such as Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni, RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, Eintracht Frankfurt's Randal Kolo Muani, Arsenal's William Saliba, and Jules Kounde (Barcelona). All five could very well be included in Didier Deschamps' 26-man roster that will be unveiled on November 9th.
Les Tricolores appear to have a good chance of winning Group D. With only five World Cup appearances under their belt before to Qatar 2022, Tunisia is comparatively inexperienced at this level compared to Les Bleus' 15. Regarding Australia, France has fond memories of their encounter at Russia 2018, when they triumphed 2-1 in the first game of the group stage.
The toughest test should come from Denmark, who have replaced France as their adversary. Les Bleus lost to the Danes twice in the UEFA Nations League this year, in June and September, ending a seven-year winless streak against them.
France's Group D fixtures
France-Australia, 22:00 local time, Al Janoub Stadiumb d'Al Wakrah
France-Denmark, 19:00 local time, Stadium 974 Doha
Tunisia-France, 18:00 local time, Education City Stadium, Doha
Deschamps' approach and tactics
Appointed coach ten years ago, Didier Deschamps is as pragmatic as they come. As he has said on many occasions, he does not have a system set in stone and prefers to adapt to the attributes of his players. “Every system is good,” he told FIFA+. “What matters is how you use them.”
“Didier likes to see a lot of intensity in matches,” explained Stephan. “He’s not a coach who wants possession for possession’s sake. He also wants there to be a direct link with the attack, so transitions are important.” The Bleus coach likes his full-backs to get forward too. Benjamin Pavard’s stunning strike against Argentina at Russia 2018 was the perfect example of that.
A former midfielder, Deschamps has much to ponder in that key part of the pitch ahead of Qatar 2022. Paul Pogba, who was instrumental in the Russia 2018 triumph, is unlikely to make the trip because of a knee injury, while Kante has suffered a series of injuries himself since France's night to remember in Moscow four years ago.
Whereas the two-time world champions' success in Russia was founded on a 4-2-3-1 system, Deschamps is likely to start the 2022 with a 3-4-3 that features Griezmann, Mbappe and Benzema in attack. If the front three fire and the France boss can strike the right balance in midfield, the result could be thrilling.
Key player: Karim Benzema
The Real Madrid forward had a season to remember in 2021–2022, and as a result, he was crowned UEFA Men's Player of the Year. He will serve as France's primary player in Qatar together with Mbappe. The former Lyon striker has scored 10 goals in 16 international appearances after resuming his international career at UEFA EURO 2020, five and a half years after taking a break. He has shown to be a match-winning player.
As he approaches his 35th birthday, KB9 has never been in better form. “He’s a world-class player,” said Kounde. “He’s got the lot, there’s not much he can’t do and he’s the linchpin of our whole game. He’s a very positive person to have around and he’s a natural leader too.”
“Karim is the best No9 in the world right now,” said Pavard. “He performs every time he plays for France and he lifts us up.”
“This World Cup is a very important tournament for him,” commented Deschamps. “The years go by and though anything can happen, this will probably be his last World Cup.”
At his previous world championships in Brazil 2014, Benzema got things going by scoring twice in France's opening game to defeat Honduras 3-0. He scored three goals in five games to finish the tournament. Can he have an impact in Qatar 2022 eight years later?.
One to watch: Aurelien Tchouameni
This summer, the talented midfielder from France switched from Monaco to Real Madrid, where he is now playing with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
The former Bordeaux star might very well be one of Deschamps' key players in Qatar 2022 given the likely absence of Pogba, the recent injury issues Kante and Adrien Rabiot have had, and the probable absence of Pogba.
'He always has something to offer whatever the match situation,' said Deschamps. 'He really listens, he's organised and he thinks about his football. Even though he's not exactly the same kind of player, Pogba had all that at the same age. Aurelien is the complete player, both physically and mentally, and has what it takes to stay at the very top.'
Still only 22, Tchouameni has 14 caps to his name and looks set to be around for a long time to come.
France's World Cup history
As the 20th century came to an end, Les Bleus saw several notable highs along with the occasional down. In Mexico and Spain 1982, the thrilling 1980s squad made it to the semi-finals twice in a succession. Then there were conspicuous omissions from Italy in 1990 and the United States in 1994, and then there was the glory of 1998, when a Trophy was won on home soil, setting off joyous national celebrations.
Similar ups and downs have occurred since the turn of the millennium. The devastating sadness of losing the Final to Italy in Germany 2006 followed the group-phase elimination in Korea/Japan 2002. That encounter will always be known for Zinedine Zidane's headbutt. Four years later, France's attempt to compete in South Africa was hindered by internal issues, which resulted in a contentious first-round withdrawal.
The appearance of Deschamps in the dugout signaled a turn of events. A strong performance in Brazil in 2014 was followed by a second global championship in Russia in 2018. The dramatic 4-3 victory against Jorge Sampaoli's Argentina in the round of 16 and the outstanding 4-2 victory over Zlatko Dalic's Croatia in the championship match were the highlights of that historic season.
Check out more information of football games, players, teams and news on ClevPicks: Reliable football betting prediction using artificial intelligence.