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World Cup: France team profile

Reigning world champions France head to Qatar to defend their crown but, after their early elimination in Euro 2020, long-serving manager Didier Deschamps can take nothing for granted.

Their UEFA Nations League win in October 2021 eased the pain of their premature exit from the European Championships but a torrid start to the third edition of the Nations League has cast some doubt over Les Bleus' chances this winter.

Boasting some of the biggest names in world football, not least Ballon d'Or favourite Karim Benzema, there is no denying France have the talent to go all the way in Qatar but that is no guarantee of success.

Benzema, who was exiled from the squad for their 2018 triumph, will be particularly keen to add the crowning jewel to his overflowing trophy cabinet but World Cup 2022 also offers ageing stars such as Hugo Lloris, Antoine Griezmann, N'Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud potentially their last chance at being the latest additions to the short list of players to have won multiple World Cups.

The champions are currently 6/1 in the outright betting and 2/5 to top a Group D that includes Denmark, Australia and Tunisia.

What:World Cup
When:20th November - 18th December 2022
How to watch:All matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV
Odds:Brazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Argentina 7/1, Spain 8/1

What is France's World Cup record?

The 2018 success in Russia was the second time France have earned the honour of lifting the trophy, with their first success coming on home soil back in 1998.

Les Bleus won six and drew one of their seven fixtures in 2018 and, while some may point to the quality of opponents Croatia in the final, a thrilling 4-3 win over Argentina and a hard-fought victory against Belgium on the road to Moscow proves they were deserving winners.

They did come close to winning in 2006, losing out to Italy on penalties after Zinedine Zidane was sent off for his infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi.

Worryingly, both their 1998 success and their 2006 final appearance were followed by group-stage exits at the next World Cup, while their pair of third-place finishes in 1958 and 1986 preceded a failure to qualify for the next instalment.

Winner1998, 2018

How did France qualify?

A draw at home to Ukraine in their opening World Cup qualifier put some early pressure on France but it was largely plain sailing for the holders.

They remained unbeaten through qualifying, dropping just six points to finish six points clear of Group D runners-up Ukraine.

Back-to-back friendly wins against Ivory Coast and South Africa followed in March, but their UEFA Nations League defence got off to a terrible start in June as they failed to win any of their four games, including home defeats to Denmark and Croatia.

Related World Cup Group D News

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World Cup - Football: Tunisia team profile

Who is in France's group?

France have been drawn in Group D alongside Denmark, Australia and Tunisia and odds of 2/5 for them to top the group suggest a relatively straightforward route into the knockout stages.

They open their campaign on 22nd November against Australia, who have only made it to the knockout stage of a World Cup once in their history, and are 1/5 to get the tournament off to a winning start.

Group D underdogs Tunisia are their final opponents on 30th November and Deschamps will hope to have already secured safe passage through to the elimination rounds by the time the two meet in Al Rayyan.

Topping Group D would set them up for a Round of 16 tie with the runners-up of Group C, likely to be either Mexico or Poland.

Who is France's manager?

Deschamps surpassed a decade in charge of France in July this year and this will be his fifth major tournament finals in charge.

Captain of France's World Cup-winning squad in 1998, the 53-year-old became just the third man to win the competition as both a player and a manager in 2018.

Deschamps is known to put team cohesiveness above individual talent, ruthlessly omitting star players such as Samir Nasri and Benzema from major tournament squads in 2014 and 2018.

Who is France's star player?

Benzema, 12/1 to be the tournament's leading scorer, may be heading towards the twilight of his career but there are few players performing at his level right now and if he can take his club form to Qatar not even Kylian Mbappe can outshine him.

The Real Madrid forward scored 44 goals for his club last season and was the standout player in their successful La Liga and Champions League campaigns. He has also excelled since returning to the France squad last summer, with Deschamps utilising his intelligent movement to both get on the end of chances and drop deep to create opportunities for his teammates.

Who could be France's breakout star?

Aurelien Tchouameni earned his first cap for France in September 2021 and a fantastic season for Monaco earned him a big-money move to Real Madrid this summer.

The 22-year-old defensive midfielder featured in all four of France's UEFA Nations League fixtures in June and his athleticism, coupled with his proficient capabilities on the ball, make him the perfect long-term successor to N'Golo Kante.

What is France's predicted line-up and tactics?

France predicted line-up (4-3-3): Hugo Lloris; Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez; N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, AurelienTchouameni; Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema

Didier Deschamps' switch to a 3-5-2 setup was criticised following their Euro 2020 exit and while the system has been seen since France's most recent outings suggest a return to the more familiar 4-3-3 could be on the cards.

A defensively sound double pivot is utilised, linking up with an attack that includes Kylian Mbappe coming in from wide and Benzema and Griezmann feeding balls in behind for the PSG star.

How far can France go in Qatar?

It has been 50 years since a team last won back-to-back World Cups but this France squad has the talent necessary to replicate that great Brazil team of 1958 and 1962.

Their summer UEFA Nations League performances are concerning but Deschamps experimented with his line-up a lot in that quartet of fixtures and was without the likes of Kante and Raphael Varane for much, if not all, of that time.

They should have few problems navigating their way out of Group D and when they are on song there are very few sides in world football that can stop them.

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