Three Hopes, One Fear: France at the 2018 World Cup


France come into the 2018 World Cup as one of maybe six teams capable of winning the whole competition. The French have a solid team that features superstar players in vital positions, they’ve won the cup before and as a generation this team seems close to reaching their peak.

Les Bleus finished as runner’s up to Portugal in 2016’s European Cup and will hope to follow in Germany’s footsteps as a team that made deep runs in several tournaments before putting all the pieces together and ensuring that their golden generation were crowned champions.

France come into the tournament ranked 7th in the World and Didier Deschamps men were given a favorable group stage draw. France will first play Australia on June 16th before going on to play Peru and Denmark. Denmark could pose some problems for the French, but by time the two sides play, the third match for each team, Les Bleus should have the group sewn up.

Here are the three things French fans will hope come true in France’s conquest to lift the cup for the first time in 20 years.

Hope #1. France’s stars shine. France has enormous talent at their disposal, not only in their first team but also on their bench. But the two players who shine the brightest are undoubtedly Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba.

Griezmann, who currently plies his trade for Atletico Madrid is one of the best strikers in the world. The speedy Frenchman scored 29 goals in 49 games for Atletico this past season and lead his team to a 3-0 victory over Marseille in Europa League Final, scoring a brace in route to the win.

Paul Pogba is the other superstar for France. Despite being a star, Pogba struggled two years ago in the European championships, even being benched for an important match.

Since that tournament Pogba became the most expensive transfer in the world, (for a while anyway) when Manchester United bought the midfielder from Juventus. But in the two years since Pogba arrived at United, he’s failed to reproduce the sparkling form he had at Juventus.

French fans will be quick to tell you that Pogba’s drop in form isn’t his fault, but Manchester United Manager Jose Mourinho’s. Critics claim that Mourinho has played Pogba out of his favorite and most natural position as an attacking midfielder and instead wants Pogba to sit deeper and create from deeper, while also taking up defensive responsibilities.

Or as Zlatan would say, “You bought a Ferrari but you drive it like a fiat.”

If Pogba can play in his preferred position in front of a formidable defensive midfield with the likes of N’Golo Kante cleaning up behind him, Pogba could flourish. He has the ability to dictate play as well as Toni Kroos does for Germany, but on his pomp Pogba can be a much more dynamic player and a greater goal threat.

If those two stars shine bright, no one will want to play the French in the knock-out rounds.

Hope #2 Play Flexible Football

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil France were one of the most exciting teams to watch. They played a beautiful counter attacking style that saw them turn defense into an explosive attack with wingers streaking down the pitch to latch on to inch perfect balls from Les Bleus talented midfield.

In 2016 France struggled to find a playing identity on their way to the final. They counter-attacked sometimes, but to limited success and against weaker nations who had done their homework, France would face the prospect of having to break down a team that was essentially parking the bus. At times France struggled a lot to find any kind of penetration and eventually they lost the final to a team they couldn’t get through.

If France can play both styles well in this tournament, using both to beat tricky opponents, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting in their way.

Hope #3 Hugo Lloris is rock solid.

Lloris is not only the keeper for the French team, but he’s the captain as well. An extremely talented keeper, Lloris has been great for both France and Tottenham Hotspur, but in big games, has looked shaky at times.

Lloris has the chance to be a World Cup winning captain, but he’ll need to be a strong leader in the back, especially as defense is France’s greatest weakness.

Fear: A repeat of 2010 World Cup.

If you don’t remember, the 2010 World Cup saw a French team that was very much divided. There was infighting, disagreements between players and coaches and France was ultimately eliminated in the group stages. A great national embarrassment. That will be every French fan’s biggest fear, fingers crossed that everyone gets along.

If those three hopes come true, and that fear is avoided, France should be in the semi-finals at the very least. With that much talent it’s quite possible that Hugo Lloris will be lifting the trophy on July 15th.


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