Champions of the FIFA World Cup in 1998, France boasts a rich footballing past. The player with the most goals for Les Bleus is Thierry Henry, who finished his famous M.L.S. career with the New York Red Bulls and has 51 to his credit.
The French national team originally competed in 1904; in 1930, they scored the first goal in FIFA World Cup history; and in 1988, their federation opened the Clairefontaine National Football Institute, a renowned training facility that has been credited with producing many of the country’s top players.
The French National Football Team are Champions
In 1998, the French national team participated in the World Cup’s final round for the first time, being the sixth nation to take home the trophy. The game was played at the Stade de France in Paris that year.
Brazil lost the world title by a score of 3-0, which was its worst loss to date. The team was led to victory by Zinedine Zidane, who scored two goals against Brazil. That year, Zidane also took up the FIFA World Player of the Year honor. The team wouldn’t win another World Cup title for exactly another 20 years.
Didier Deschamps, their coach, became the third person to win the World Cup while playing and coaching. The Best Young Player title went to Kylian Mbappé, and Antoine Griezmann received the Bronze Ball and Silver Boot. With his goal in the final game, Mbappé became only the second teenager to score in a World Cup Final.
France joined Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, and Uruguay as the only other nations to have won at least two World Cups.
Additionally, in 2001 and 2003, they won the FIFA Confederations Cup thrice. In the year leading up to a future World Cup, eight international soccer teams compete in the Confederations Cup. Both the nation that will host the upcoming World Cup and the reigning World Cup champions are eligible for qualification. The Confederations Cup also features the winners of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, AFC Asian Cup, UEFA Euro Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup, OFC Nations Cup, and Copa America.
In 1984, France also triumphed in an Olympic competition.
THE FRENCH ROSTER
The names speak for themselves. This star-studded French National Football Team will be playing with every intention to compete for the trophy. Led by captain Hugo Lloris of Tottenham Hotspur fame, Les Bleus boast a 23-man roster with every player competing in one of Europe’s top-five leagues and many with significant UEFA Champions League experience. Up front, France can pick and choose from a slew of attacking firepower at its disposal. Griezmann, Dembélé, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappé create a dynamic forward group few can match.
Below are the players and their positions in the roster.
Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur/England), Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille/FRA)
Lucas Hernández (Atlético Madrid/Spain; 4/0), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain/France; 2/0), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City/England; 6/0), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart/Germany; 5/0), Adil Rami (Olympique Marseille/France; 35/1), Djibril Sidibé (Monaco/France; 16/1), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona/Spain; 18/2), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid/Spain; 41/2)
N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/ England; 23/1), Thomas Lemar (Monaco/France; 11/3), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus/Italy; 66/9), Steve N’zonzi (Sevilla/ESP; 4/0), Paul Pogba (Manchester United/England; 53/9), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich/Germany; 8/0)
Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona/Spain; 11/2), Nabil Fekir (Olympique Lyon/France; 11/2), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea/England; 73/31), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid/Spain; 53/20), Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain/France; 14/3), Florian Thauvin (Olympique Marseille/France; 4/0)
Player to Watch
The versatile Thiery Henry. Because of his outstanding club career, it may be simple to ignore Henry’s contribution to France’s national team. At age 20, he finished as the tournament’s top goal scorer as France won the 1998 World Cup.
Two years later, Henry helped Les Bleus defeat Italy 2-1 in the European Championships final with a hat-trick of goals. He was named Man of the Match for the game. His record is marred by the subpar squads who dropped out of numerous international tournaments following Euro 2000.
A very notable experience plus for Henry is his coaching stint. Prior to the Republic of Ireland vs. Belgium international friendly match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Henry was introduced as Belgium’s assistant coach.