Euro 2024: Mbappe, Griezmann presence makes France the title favourites

A highly talented France team is primed and ready to win its first European Football Championship in 24 years.

Two football players run on field.
Antoine Griezmann, in front, and Kylian Mbappe are central to France's plans of winning a first European football crown since 2000 [Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters]

⚽ France – Key Euros Stats ⚽

Euro appearances: 10
Euro titles: 2
Best finish: Winners (1984, 2000)
Euros record: W21 D12 L10
Goals scored: 69
Biggest win: 5-0 (vs. Belgium in Euro 1984)
Player to watch: Antoine Griezmann
World ranking:
2nd
Team nickname:
Les Bleus (The Blues)
Group fixtures:

  • June 17: Austria vs France (Dusseldorf Arena, Dusseldorf, 9pm local/19:00 GMT)
  • June 21: Netherlands vs France (Leipzig Stadium, Leipzig, 9pm local/19:00 GMT)
  • June 25: France vs Poland (BVB Stadion, Dortmund, 6pm local/16:00 GMT)

How to follow our Euro 2024 coverage: UEFA Euro 2024 on Al Jazeera

Euro 2024 is the fifth successive major tournament that France will enter as favourites.

They’ve made it to the final in three of the past four World Cups and European Championships – and were an Emiliano Martinez save away from being consecutive World Cup champions at Qatar 2022.

This astonishing level of consistency can be credited to the seemingly bottomless pool of talent the nation can draw from.

Take, for example, how the emergence of Mike Maignan and William Saliba has offset the retirements of Hugo Lloris and Raphael Varane. Or how Aurelien Tchouameni has seamlessly plugged the Paul Pogba-shaped hole in midfield.

Similarly, Marcus Thuram’s performances for Inter Milan this season have shown he’s ready for the baton to be passed to him once Olivier Giroud retires. The uninterrupted talent supply chain has crossed over to another French team on the cusp of its next major tournament at Euro 2024.

Culture is key

The team culture that manager Didier Deschamps adopts has added another dimension to their ongoing success.

Despite the global superstars at his disposal, his genius lies in how he gets them to put aside their egos when playing for the national team. The collective supersedes the individual, and it’s a principle Deschamps has adhered to himself.

The reintegration of Adrien Rabiot and Karim Benzema – two players who the manager had fallen out with in the past – before Euro 2020 demonstrated this. Benzema scored four goals in four games at the COVID-19 delayed tournament while Rabiot went on to establish himself as a key pillar in the France midfield.

Deschamps’s management style is the perfect blend of trust and merit. N’Golo Kante’s selection for Euro 2024 is the latest example of this.

The 33-year-old’s career has been beset by injuries in the last couple of years – he last played for France in June 2022 and made just nine appearances for Chelsea in the 2022/2023 season. Following a move last summer to Al Ittihad, where he went on to play 44 games, Deschamps believes Kante can again be an asset to his side.

“He has had a full season, albeit not in a European league as he plays in Saudi Arabia, where he has regained his full physical fitness,” Deschamps said as he announced his squad on French TV channel TF1.

“And I think that with his experience and his background, I’m convinced that our team will be stronger with him.”

The infusion of experience into the squad has been matched by the injection of youth, with 18-year-old Warren Zaire-Emery and Bradley Barcola both earning call-ups.

Football manager watches team train.
France coach Didier Deschamps knows he has a team good enough to go all the way at Euro 2024 [Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Griezmann the glue guy

Superstar Kylian Mbappe is the obvious centrepiece to this France side – the 25-year-old topped Les Bleus’ goals (9) and assists (5) charts in their unbeaten qualification campaign for Euro 2024.

However, as was the case in Qatar in 2022, the heartbeat of the team remains veteran forward Antoine Griezmann.

The Atletico Madrid star has been a constant presence in Deschamps’s managerial reign. His record of playing 84 consecutive games for France came to an end in the March friendlies against Chile and Germany, which he missed through injury.

Griezmann’s versatility makes him indispensable to Deschamps.

He came of age at Euro 2016 as a second striker, scoring six goals to win the Golden Boot.

At Euro 2020, he often found himself playing on the left of a front-three forward line to accommodate Mbappe and Benzema.

With France reeling from injuries at the 2022 World Cup, Deschamps decided to deploy him in midfield. The experiment worked, with Griezmann notching up the joint-highest assists total in Qatar.

It is a role he will reprise in Germany this summer, and at age 33, this is Griezmann’s last chance to win the trophy that has eluded him in his storied France career.

Football player on field.
At 33, France’s Antoine Griezmann knows this is his final chance for Euro glory [Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters]

France’s recent European Football championship appearances have been defined by heartbreak.

At Euro 2016, they lost the final in extra time to Portugal on home soil.

Just when it felt like they were hitting their stride at Euro 2020, they suffered a shock exit to Switzerland in the round of 16.

The World Cup win in 2018 does not do justice to the level of dominance France have shown over the past decade. This year’s Euros presents a golden opportunity for Les Bleus to seal their legacy as one of the best national sides in history.

⚽ France’s final squad for Euro 2024 ⚽

Captain: Kylian Mbappe

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham United), Mike Maignan (AC Milan), Brice Samba (Lens)

Defenders: Jonathan Clauss (Marseille), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), William Saliba (Arsenal), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid), Benjamin Pavard (Inter Milan), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich)

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Al Ittihad), Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Warren Zaire-Emery (Paris Saint-Germain), Youssouf Fofana (AS Monaco)

Forwards: Kylian Mbappe (Real Madrid), Bradley Barcola (Paris Saint-Germain), Ousmane Dembele (Paris Saint-Germain), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Marcus Thuram (Internazionale), Randal Kolo Muani (Paris Saint-Germain), Olivier Giroud (Los Angeles FC)

You can follow the action on Al Jazeera’s dedicated Euro 2024 tournament page with all the match build-up and live text commentary, and keep up to date with group standings and real-time match results and schedules.

Source: Al Jazeera