Euro 2012 guide: France

KEY PLAYER: Karim Benzema

KEY PLAYER: Karim Benzema

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THE French side appearing at Euro 2012 will be much different to the one that crumbled at the 2010 World Cup.

The squad is full of new players and there‘s far more optimism now than there was 2 years ago. The optimism comes from a good qualifying campaign and impressive friendly wins over Brazil and Germany. While not being considered favourites from the outset the French could become just that should they qualify well from their group. They certainly have the talent to go far.

Coach

Brought in with a major task to revive a national team that was in chaos, Laurent Blanc has done just that, and then some. After losing his first two games in charge Le Bleus are now 18 games unbeaten and should enter the tournament with confidence. However, Blanc could be off after Euro 2012, Chelsea and Liverpool amongst rumoured destinations.

Key player

Since being left out of the World Cup two years ago Karim Benzema has had a very successful two years. He’s established himself as the main striker for France and at Real Madrid he’s started to live up to the potential first seen at Lyon, scoring 32 goals for Los Blancos this season. Benzema offers pace, the ability to link play, and a killer instinct inside the box; Euro 2012 could be his competition.

One to watch

Said to be joining Arsenal very soon, 21 year old Yann M’Vila has made himself a first choice in central midfield under Blanc. He’s quick in the tackle and excellent reader of the game despite his young age and his not too bad in possession either, able to find teammates with intelligent distribution. Has not had a great end to the season but has often been very good wearing the national shirt.

Why they could have a good tournament...

France has an excellent and well rounded squad with cover in most positions. Blanc’s 4-2-3-1 formation is a perfect base for France to attack from and is able to include all their key attacking players (Nasri, Menez, Ribery, Benzema) whilst giving balance in defence and central midfield. They will grow in confidence as the tournament progress if they start well and should be seen as a threat to the 3 favourites. Unlike past tournaments Blanc’s France has a clear philosophy and way of playing.

Why they could have a bad tournament...

Lack of leadership on the pitch could be an issue. Their captain, Hugo Lloris, is only 25 will none of the outfield players come across as leaders. Ribery could emerge as one being an older, and talented player but he’s often been accused of not showing his best for France. At some point at Euro 2012 France will need somebody to take charge of a game – at this moment however it’s unclear who that somebody is.