Skip to main content

World Cup Preview and Predictions: The Definitive Guide To France Heading into Qatar

Weakened France must first deal with the "Champion's Curse."

The defending champions arrive in Qatar with one of the best rosters of all 32 teams; however, a variety of issues have caused this team to generate more doubts than certainties.

With an attack led by Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema, France should be able to hurt any defense in the tournament, and manager Didier Deschamps will need to make sure the team can nurture them to succeed.

France makes its debut on November 22 against Australia, then faces Denmark on November 26, and closes its group stage against Tunisia on November 30.

Strengths: Attack, World Class Players, Defense

France has plenty of top-level attackers to open up any defense, and this is undoubtedly their main strength for the tournament that starts this Sunday.

We already mentioned that Benzema and Mbappé are the most important, but behind them will be Antoine Griezmann, a player who has already made history in major tournaments with France. We must also consider Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Marcus Thuram, and Christopher N'Kunku, as offensive weapons of great moment. Last but not least, France's all-time leading scorer, Olivier Giroud.

In defense, there are plenty of options, most of them players who play regularly for the best teams in the world. Pavard (Bayern Munich), Koundé (Barcelona), Varane (Manchester United), Saliba (Arsenal), Theo Hernández (Milan), Konaté (Liverpool), and the list goes on.

To win a World Cup, you need an armored defense that doesn't make mistakes. Fortunately for France, Deschamps has excellent players at his disposal.

Weaknesses: Injuries, Midfield, Emergency tactis

Injuries suffered by Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kanté, key players in Deschamps' team over the years, have weakened the French midfield, which will have to rely on young talent.

To give you an idea, the six midfielders going to Qatar have 60 caps between them, while Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kanté have 91 and 53, respectively. France lost hierarchy with the absence of two monsters in midfield.

France also has interesting names such as Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga (both of Real Madrid), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), and Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), but none of them is established as a world-class talent, and it will be at the World Cup that they must prove it, which is a difficult task.

Due to these and other injuries, Didier Deschamps will abandon the 3-4-1-2 formation he has been using for the past two years. A World Cup is never a good time to improvise, but the French coach is determined to go back to the four-man backline.

Prediction: Round of 16

You've probably heard about the "champion's curse," after four of the last five reigning world champions were eliminated in the first round. Although I think France will be affected by their injuries, I doubt they will be out so early, and I don't see them going far in Qatar either.

France will probably have no problems facing Australia and Tunisia in the group stage. Against Denmark, it's a different story. The Danes have defeated "Les Bleus" with authority a couple of times this year, and I have a feeling the same thing will happen in Qatar.

That said, France will advance to the Round of 16 as runner-up, and there they will face a powerful and inspired Argentina, with Lionel Messi in stellar form. That's as far as France's adventure in Qatar will go.