France have been producing talented footballers for generations, but the national team has always been a rollercoaster of expectations, disaster, and occasional success. They lifted their first World Cup on home soil in 1998 and were European Champions in 2000, only to crash out in the group stages in the 2002 World Cup. They were runners-up in 2006 but again left in disgrace in 2010.
In 2016, again on home soil for a tournament, they were hoping to win a third European Championship but were beaten in the final. In 2018 a youthful, incredibly talented, side swept to World Cup glory in Russia.
In Football Manager 2019 you have the opportunity to take over the reins of the French side and try to keep their momentum rolling on. Can you prevent France dipping into a disappointing slump once again? RealSport has everything you need to know about how to lead France into 2020 and beyond.
Expectations & Philosophy
With no tournament immediately on the horizon or even a qualifying group to compete in, there are no explicit expectations from the powers that be. However, once the Euro 2020 qualifying groups are drawn, you will be expected to qualify with ease and progress deep into the tournament. Failing to bring the trophy home may well result in your dismissal, so you can’t afford a slip up.
Unlike a club side, there are no philosophies the board wish you to uphold during your tenure. This means you are free to play to the strengths of your squad as it changes over the years and can play defensively when required to.
France have amazing quality all over the pitch, meaning any forward-thinking tactic is suitable for them. They have the quality in central midfield to dominate possession against anyone and the defensive talent to soak up pressure and counter-attack too. The speed of their front players is tremendous but the work rate is not quite high enough to effectively run the gegenpress every game. This means a vertical tiki-taka approach is the best one to take. This moves the ball forward quickly, looking to exploit space with your speed and dominate possession with your quality midfield.
With the vertical tiki-taka tactic in place there are a couple of formations you can choose from that suit France. The ideal one for most games will be a 4-3-3 look which FM 19 describes as ‘4-1-4-1 Wide DM’. This has a back 4 with one shielding midfielder. A central pair of midfielders that then look to link up with two wide attackers that support a single striker.
In this look Hugo Lloris is your keeper, with a back four of Djibril Sidibe, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, and Benjamin Mendy. N’Golo Kante patrols in front of the back four with Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi in central midfield. The front three is made up of Ousmane Dembele on the right, Antoine Griezmann on the left, and Kylian Mbappe up front.
If you are struggling to break down an opponent, then an option is to move to a more forward-thinking 4-2-3-1 in which you take off Matuidi and slide Griezmann inside to the AMC role. This will allow you to bring on another forward player like Anthony Martial, Alexandre Lacazette, or Moussa Dembele.
The current France squad is full of talent, but which players hold the key to success at Euro 2020 and beyond?
Antoine Griezmann CA 4 star (179), PA 4.5 star (182)
France’s star of Euro 2016 and talisman for World Cup 2018 was Antoine Griezmann. The Atletico Madrid forward is just 27 when you take over the France job and already has 61 caps and 24 goals for his country. He's a remarkably talented player who's comfortable up front or playing on the left wing and can even drop into a central attacking midfield role too.
In FM 19 Griezmann is one of the best forwards around. His 19 first touch, 18 finishing, and 18 off the ball make him a threat in and around the box while his 17 dribbling, 15 acceleration, and 14 pace means he can produce in the wide areas as well. His 179 CA is the best of any French player when you take over and with a 182 PA he is at the peak of his powers right now.
Paul Pogba CA 4 star (174), PA 4.5 star (185)
France’s mercurial midfielder is just 25 but has 60 caps and 11 goals. His physical prowess and talent on the ball means he can fill just about any role you ask of him too. Pogba joined Manchester United in 2016 for a then-record £89 million and his ability to drive the team forward is worth every penny.
In FM 19 Pogba has a 174 CA, but he hasn’t peaked yet thanks to a 185 PA. His 19 flair, 19 technique, and 18 passing make him a deadly creative force in the heart of your midfield, and with 17 dribbling, 17 strength, and 16 pace he can carry the threat with the ball at his feet too.
Kylian Mbappe - CA 4 star (173), PA 5 star (196)
Kylian Mbappe is the most talented teenager in world football. The France and Paris Saint-Germain wide man was instrumental in Monaco’s Ligue 1 title run in the 2016-17 season before making a massive €180 million to the capital. He was in remarkable form at the World Cup and became just the second teenager to score in a World Cup final after Pele. He holds the future of the French team in his hands.
In FM19 Mbappe’s 173 CA already makes him an important player to France, but his 196 PA means he could develop into the best player on the game by a wide margin. His 20 pace, 19 acceleration, and 17 dribbling make him a threat to every defence in the world, while his 17 composure, 17 off the ball, and 16 finishing are incredible for a player his age.
France may have a number of young players in their squad already, but who are the players that could develop into strong squad members in future years?
Alban Lafont - CA 2 star (135), PA 5 star (150-180)
With captain Hugo Lloris already 31 and unlikely to maintain his quality into World Cup 2022 it is important that France have a young goalkeeper waiting in the wings. Fiorentina teenager Alban Lafont could be that player. He came up through the Toulouse youth system before making a €7 million move to Italy where he has quickly become the #1.
Lafont is yet to be capped at senior level by France, but it will only be a matter of time before he makes it into your squad. With a PA range of 150-180 he could quickly overtake Lloris. His is already a good option with 16 reflexes, 14 concentration, and 14 one on ones.
Moussa Dembele - CA 2.5 star (141), PA 3.5 star (162)
While Griezmann and Mbappe are capable of playing up front, they lack an out-and-out striker of real quality that can lead the line. One player that could take up that role in future years is Moussa Dembele. The Lyon striker returned to France after a stint at Celtic in 2018 for a €22 million and has already made an impact while he waits for his first senior cap.
Dembele already has a good CA of 141 and his 162 PA means he could well turn into a leading striker in world football. He has good athleticism with 16 acceleration and 15 pace and quality in front of goal with 15 finishing.
Willem Geubbels - CA 1.5 star (105), PA 4.5 star (150-180)
While Dembele is the man for the short-term with France, Willem Geubbels could well be the future star up front. The 16-year-old is currently in the Monaco under-19 side, meaning he is a long way from the France squad, but the teenager is already talented and could develop into a superstar striker.
Geubbels’ PA range of 150-180 together with solid stats of 14 acceleration, 13 pace, and 12 finishing suggest he will become a leading man with pace and deadly quality in front of goal. He is one to keep an eye on for the future.
|Djibril Sidibe||D (R)||25||Monaco||140/146||£8.5m|
|Benjamin Pavard||D (RC)||22||Stuttgart||148/170||£31m|
|Samuel Umtiti||D (C)||24||Barcelona||161/169||£48m|
|Aymeric Laporte||D (C)||24||Man City||161/170||£33m|
|Raphael Varane||D (C)||25||Real Madrid||159/172||£47m|
|Clement Lenglet||D (C)||22||Barcelona||151/160||£14.5m|
|Lucas Hernandez||D (LC) WB (L)||22||Atletico Madrid||151/170||£16.5m|
|Benjamin Mendy||D (L) WB (L)||23||Man City||150/160||£25m|
|N'Golo Kante||DM M (C)||27||Chelsea||165/165||£62m|
|Paul Pogba||M (C) AM (C)||25||Man Utd||174/185||£66m|
|Blaise Matuidi||DM M (LC)||31||Juventus||159/161||£42m|
|Adrien Rabiot||M (C)||23||PSG||151/164||£16.25m|
|Corentin Tolisso||DM M (C) AM (C)||23||Bayern||152/165||£30.5m|
|Ousmane Dembele||M (RL) AM (RL)||21||Barcelona||169/185||£62m|
|Kylian Mbappe||AM (RL) ST (C)||19||PSG||173/196||£71m|
|Kingsley Coman||M (RL) AM (RL)||21||Bayern||153/171||£34.5m|
|Thomas Lemar||M (L) AM (RLC)||22||Atletico Madrid||154/171||£30.5m|
|Anthony Martial||AM (L) ST (C)||22||Man Utd||156/175||£52m|
|Antoine Griezmann||AM (LC) ST (C)||27||Atletico Madrid||179/182||£74m|
|Alexandre Lacazette||AM (R) ST (C)||27||Arsenal||155/161||£42.5m|
|Moussa Dembele||ST (C)||21||OL||141/162||£11.75m|
Allez Le Bleu
The ultimate goal with France in FM19 to maintain their place as championship winners. With most of the squad being in their early-to-mid 20's they should be highly competitive going into Euro 2020 and the next World Cup. When a European side wins the World Cup they usually make at least the final of the next European tournament, if not win it, so that is the immediate aim.
No country has retained the World Cup since Brazil in 1958 & 1962, but France's core players should all be returning to the 2022 competition, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, and Adrien Rabiot all nearing their peak. France are blessed with a lot of very young, very talented, footballers at almost every position right now, so failing to make deep runs in tournaments would be an extreme failure. France should be winning Euro 2020 and at least making the semi-final of the next World Cup. Win both and you will go down as a legend in the game.