Soccer: France Under Pressure at UEFA Euro 2012
After a disastrous display at the 2010 World Cup, France looks to re-establish their reputation in international Soccer at UEFA Euro 2012. Here’s our breakdown of Les Bleus’ chances.
How they got here
France’s rocky road to Poland and Ukraine went down to the wire. Laurent Blanc’s side got off to the worst possible start by losing at home to unfancied Belarus. Les Bleus didn’t stay down for long as they beat Bosnia in Sarajevo and then won at home against Romania before recording back-to-back wins over Luxembourg. Belarus however stopped the French momentum once again, earning a 1-1 draw in Minsk.
Two wins over Albania sandwiched a draw with Romania but Bosnia’s continued good form meant the group went down the last game in Paris. Edin Dzeko put Bosnia ahead on 40 minutes, which provisionally moved them to the top of the group. A Samir Nasri penalty 12 minutes from time secured the point France needed to save their blushes and book a place in UEFA Euro 2012.
Who to watch
Controversy is never far from the French team but some of their most controversial players will be vital in Soccer betting. Patrice Evra, Franck Ribery, and Karim Benzema have all had off-field issues, with Evra notably involved in France’s training camp meltdown at the 2010 World Cup. All three however will play big roles for Laurent Blanc’s side this summer.
The star studded French roster is heavy on midfield talent but short on strikers. Just three recognized attackers are included in the 23 man panel. That will mean the likes of Nasri and Florent Malouda will be expected to deliver attacking threats to supplement Benzema’s front man role. Depth is definitely an issue as outside their starting XI, France is short on options to truly frighten opponents.
How they will perform
Recent form does little to inspire confidence. On top of their rocky qualifying campaign, Blanc’s charges were stunned last weekend when Iceland took a 2-0 lead in a friendly. Les Bleus eventually bounced back to win 3-2, with Ribery scoring two late goals. The performance however is more worrying than the result. A team focussed on challenging at a major championship shouldn’t give up cheap leads to a team that didn’t even qualify.
History could at least serve the French well in the group stage. They kick off against England, who have failed to win an opening game at a major tournament since 1982. Talent however favors Roy Hodgson’s men in this match-up. A point from the opening game would probably be enough but a defeat would lead to some tense moments against Sweden and Ukraine.