Past World Cup appearances: 15
Best workmanship: Winners (1998, 2018)
World Cup record: W34 D13 L19
Biggest win: 7-3 against Paraguay (1958)
Player to watch: Kylian Mbappe
Luminaires: Australia (November 22), Denmark (November 26), Tunisia (November 30)
Les Blues will go into the World Cup with high hopes despite a string of poor results that saw them narrowly miss relegation from the Nations League.
The reigning world champions have won just once in their last six games, but still go to Qatar as one of the favourites.
France manager Didier Deschamps will be forced to make some changes to his squad as regular starters N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba will miss out through injury.
With France boasting wealth in midfield, Deschamps will have plenty of players to call on, including 22-year-old Aurelien Tchouameni, who has impressed at Real Madrid.
France are expected to progress from Group D, where they are drawn with Tunisia, Denmark and Australia. It is almost a copy of their group at the 2018 World Cup, where they were drawn with Denmark, Australia and Peru and topped the group with seven points.
Les Bleus at the World Cup
Les Bleus’ first successful tournament took place at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, where striker Just Fountaine scored 13 goals in six games.
France would be soundly beaten 5–2 by eventual winners Brazil in the semi-finals.
It was in the 1980s that France really made itself known on the international scene, finishing fourth and third in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups respectively, as well as winning the 1984 European Championships.
Made up of the likes of midfield maestro Michel Platini and defender Marius Trésor, this French team played intense football that produced some of the most dramatic games of the World Cup, including the famous 3-3 semi-final against West Germany in 1982.
This golden generation would eventually give way to a French team that failed to qualify for the next two World Cups, and the country would have to wait until 1998, when it hosted the World Cup for the second time in its history.
The 1998 team, which included Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet and Zinedine Zidane, would win the tournament in emphatic style, defeating Brazil 3-0 in the final and ushering in a new period of dominance that saw another European player would pick up. Championship in 2000.
After being knocked out in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, followed by a quarter-final exit to hosts and eventual winners Greece at the 2002 European Championship, France would again reach the 2004 World Cup final. The thrilling game against Italy ended 1-1 and France lost 5-3 on penalties, but will ultimately be best remembered for Zidane’s infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi.
During a tricky 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Les Bleus exited the group stage.
Internal unrest erupted, in part due to a player’s boycott of training after Raymond Domenech sacked Nicolas Anelka after the striker cursed and openly criticized him. An improved performance in Brazil in 2014 would ultimately end in disappointment as France went down to Germany in the quarter-finals.
In 2018, after a runner-up finish at the 2016 European Championships, France would claim their second World Cup gold at the tournament in Russia, beating Croatia 4–2 in the final.
As one of the favorites of the tournament, France expects at least the semi-finals, if not the final.
Les Bleus should get through their group with relative ease. In the next phase, they will probably face Poland or Mexico, followed by a possible meeting with England, the Netherlands or Senegal if there are no major setbacks.
In the semifinals they could meet Brazil, Belgium or Germany, among others.
With a team brimming with world-class talent, they should be regarded as a real contender to win the World Cup. Since Brazil defended its title in 1962, no country has repeated this feat.