France World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections
Pictured: Kylian Mbappe.
- Defending World Cup champions France head to the 2022 event near the top of the odds market.
- Will they be able to triumph once again?
- Read on for a full preview of the squad, tactics and schedule France have.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and Action Network's staff of soccer experts are here to take you through each and every team that will be participating.
Read on for a full breakdown of France ahead of the tournament, and click here for analysis on each of the other 31 teams.
France World Cup Preview
The defending World Cup champions come into Qatar once again as one of the favorites to lift the trophy. In terms of talent, France might have the most complete roster of anyone in this tournament.
Obviously, they have two of the best attacking players in the world in PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and the Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, who combined for 88 goals at the club level last season. Additionally, France have RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku, Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé, and Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman.
Injuries have taken their toll in the midfield, as Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante are going to miss the World Cup. However, it might have been a mistake to start those two over the Real Madrid pair of Aurélien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga, who have been in fantastic form at the club level to begin the season and look ready to take over the French midfield.
|Chances To…||Action Projections||bet365 Odds|
|Win Group Stage||59.71%||-250|
|Advance To Knockout Round||92.02%||-1000|
|Win World Cup||10.83%||+600|
|Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.|
Then, in defense, France have tons of options for a center back pairing. Raphaël Varane has been a staple in the French backline for a number of years, but Didier Deschamps has Arsenal’s William Saliba, Barcelona’s Jules Koundé, or the Bayern Munich pair of Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez at his disposal. He has outstanding full backs in Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard and AC Milan’s Theo Hernandez.
While France have all of the talent in the world, their results since winning the 2018 World Cup have been a bit questionable. They got knocked out of the Euros in the Round of 16 by Switzerland and got thoroughly dominated by Germany and Portugal during the group stage. Against Germany, Portugal and Switzerland in the Euros, France allowed a total of 5.5 xG in three matches. Additionally, their low block defensive style of play under Deschamps has not been easy on the eyes for most fans.
France should easily get out of Group D, but winning the event is not going to be as straightforward as most people think, because the match against Denmark is going to be incredibly difficult. With that being said, with Mbappe and Benzema on the pitch together, it’s hard to look away from this French side making another deep run in the World Cup.
Key Player: Kylian Mbappe
With Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo getting into their late 30s, you are starting to see the next generation take over the world’s game. People will debate until they are blue in the face, but Mbappe is the best player in the world.
You simply will not find a more complete attacker that can take you off the dribble, make line-breaking passes and score from anywhere on the pitch. He’s shown that for PSG over the past few years, as last year he averaged a staggering 1.18 xG + xAssist per 90 minutes rate and this season, he’s currently at 1.23 heading into the World Cup, per fbref.com.
For France, Mbappe has scored 28 goals and provided 17 assists over 59 appearances over his career. Even though he didn’t score in the Euros, he did create 2 xG and 1.7 xAssists over their four matches.
Deschamps’ system is incredibly reliant on offensive transition after winning the ball deep in their own final third, which means Mbappe’s pace and ability on the ball are crucial to France's attack, and it’s another reason why they’ve had so much success since he’s come into the side.
You would think France would play a style that mirrors the amount of talent they have, but Deschamps tends to play a little differently than you might think against the world’s elite. They consistently play in a mid-defensive block, clogging up the middle of the pitch, looking to win the ball off the opponents and make quick offensive transitions sending Mbappe, Benzema and out on the counter to make some magic happen.
When you have two of the best attacking players in the world, it works, but you also are conceding a lot of possession. You saw that in the Euros when they played Germany. France only were able to hold 39% possession, and even in the semifinals and final of the 2018 World Cup they failed to hold over 40% possession.
That’s not to say France don’t want to play a possession-based style, because that is exactly what they like to do when playing against smaller sides. Typically, they like to build out from the back with Tchouameni dropping deep to begin the build-up play, then everyone on the pitch has the freedom to move where they please. It ends up being a little bit of a slower build-up with players making half runs in between the lines to eventually unlock the defense to create a chance.
So in the group stage, we will likely see France dominate the ball, but when they play bigger sides, don’t be surprised if Deschamps plays more defensively.
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France World Cup Schedule
|Australia||2 p.m. ET, Nov. 22|
|Denmark||11 a.m. ET, Nov. 26|
|Tunisia||10 a.m. ET, Nov. 30|
Most Recent World Cup Result
Les Bleus are the defending World Cup champion, as France put together an incredible showing at the 2018 event. Wins over Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium were capped off with a 4-2 victory against Croatia in the final.