France’s association with the World Cup goes back to the inaugural event in 1930 when they were one of only four European teams featured.
Since then they have appeared in 14 editions, their only win coming on home soil back in 1998.
That was also the first time they reached the final, eclipsing their third place finishes of 1958 and 1986.
Since the win over Brazil 20 years ago, France have always entered tournaments amongst the favourites. But aside from a final appearance in 2006, they have often flattered to deceive, despite having considerable talent at their disposal.
This year has been no exception, with many pundits marking their star-studded squad as potential winners.
But can France really win the World Cup? The answer is no. And here’s why.
With so many stars in one team, it’s hard to mould them into a cohesive unit.
Players such as Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe are all brilliant individuals but squeezing them all into one squad and then getting them to work together is difficult.
Team mentality is more important than individual brilliance at tournament level. And that has always been a trait of the best national teams.
For all their individual brilliance, the current France squad is less than the sum of its parts. They have players of elite level but they are not an elite level team.
Much of that is down to the Didier Deschamps whose approach has been stifling France’s best talent for the best part of six years.
Mendy and Sidibe not fully fit
When they lost the 2016 European Championship at home to Portugal, Didier Deschamps had to rely on veterans Christophe Jallet, Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna in the fullback positions. All three were approaching their mid-thirties.
This weak area of the squad was addressed with the emergence of Benjamin Mendy and Djibril Sidibe. However, both suffered injury setbacks last season and have only recently returned to action.
Mendy was out from September 2017 to April 2018 with an ACL injury and has only played 62 minutes of club football since. He featured in two France’s warm-up matches but the lack of competitive action is a worry.
Djibril Sidibe was side-lined with a knee injury in April and was out for a month.
He managed 109 minutes for Monaco before the season ended and also turned out for France in the friendly games against Republic of Ireland and USA.
France will need both these players fit and in form if they are to go far in Russia.
France scraped to win against in their opener against Australia with an unconvincing display.
After enjoying the World Cup’s first VAR decision to earn a penalty after 58 minutes, they had to rely on an own goal to seal all three points. And while Australia deserve credit for a dogged performance, France were average.
The lack of team dynamic was clear again. There was plenty of quality but little cohesion and tactically they looked clueless.
Paul Pogba tried to pull the strings from the midfield and was involved in both goals, but France cannot rely on individual performances and slices of luck to win this tournament.
Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard can be forgiven their inexperience but their lacklustre displays in the fullback positions highlighted just what a difference Mendy and Sidibe could make to this team.
France need both players in the XI as soon as possible. But even then, there are huge question marks about what this team can achieve under their current coach.
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