France (Group C)
|Gregory Coupet||Goalkeeper||Olympique Lyon|
|Sebastien Frey||Goalkeeper||Fiorentina (Italy)|
|Steve Mandanda||Goalkeeper||Olympique Marseille|
|Eric Abidal||Defender||FC Barcelona (Spain)|
|Jean-Alain Boumsong||Defender||Olympique Lyon|
|Francois Clerc||Defender||Olympique Lyon|
|Sebastien Squillaci||Defender||Olympique Lyon|
|William Gallas||Defender||Arsenal (England)|
|Patrice Evra||Defender||Manchester United (England)|
|Willy Sagnol||Defender||Bayern Munich (Germany)|
|Lilian Thuram||Defender||FC Barcelona (Spain)|
|Lassana Diarra||Midfielder||Portsmouth (England)|
|Claude Makelele||Midfielder||Chelsea (England)|
|Florent Malouda||Midfielder||Chelsea (England)|
|Samir Nasri||Midfielder||Olympique Marseille|
|Jeremy Toulalan||Midfielder||Olympique Lyon|
|Patrick Vieira||Midfielder||Inter Milan (Italy)|
|Nicolas Anelka||Forward||Chelsea (England)|
|Karim Benzema||Forward||Olympique Lyon|
|Sidney Govou||Forward||Olympique Lyon|
|Bafetimbi Gomis||Forward||St Etienne|
|Thierry Henry||Forward||FC Barcelona (Spain)|
|Franck Ribery||Forward||Bayern Munich (Germany)|
|Head Coach:||Raymond Domenech|
Style of play: With so many world-class attacking players to choose from, it's no surprise that coach Raymond Domenech uses an offensive 4-4-2 lineup. In this formation, the central defenders of Lilian Thuram and William Gallas anchor the back line, while the outside fullbacks, Willy Sagnol and Eric Abidal, venture down the wings to join the attack when the chance presents itself. Just in front of the defenders are two central midfielders who are responsible for winning the ball: Claude Makelele stays put and acts as a shield for the back four, while the marauding Patrick Vieira is the link between the defence and forwards. Franck Ribery is the fulcrum of the attack, given licence to wander from his position on the right wing into the middle where he wields his special brand of playmaking magic. Florent Malouda plays a similar role on the left wing. The two forwards feast on the passes supplied to them, with Thierry Henry playing slightly behind the other striker, Karim Benzema, and dropping back into midfield. From there, Henry is renowned for using the space around him to blow by defenders. The midfielders will try to play the ball over the top of the defence to Benzema to make use of his speed.
Probable starting formation (4-4-2): (GK) Coupet - (D) Abidal, Gallas, Thuram, Sagnol - (M) Malouda, Makelele, Vieira, Ribery - (F) Benzema, Henry
Defence – Les Bleus gave up a meagre five goals in 12 qualifying games, sending a message to their Euro opponents that they will be a tough team to break down. Led by experienced veterans such as William Gallas, Lilian Thuram and Willy Sagnol, France has a wealth of quality defenders it can rely on.
Attacking depth – France has an embarrassment of riches when it coming to attacking players. Thierry Henry is the country's all-time leading scorer, and is still a lethal scoring threat, even at age 30. France can also call upon Franck Ribery, Florent Malouda, Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri, all of whom bring a different set of attacking characteristics to the table.
Youth and experience – Coach Domenech has kept the core of veterans from the French team that reached the 2006 World Cup final (Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele, Lilian Thuram), but he's also drafted several talented youngsters into the squad (Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri, and Bafetimbi Gomis).
Goalkeeping – Gregory Coupet has inherited the starting goalkeeper's position since the international retirement of Fabien Barthez, but the Lyon shot stopper is far from convincing. On the other hand, Sebastien Frey of Italian club Fiorentina is a dynamic goalkeeper, able to make incredible saves, but his lack of experience with the national team means coach Domenech is committed to using Coupet.
The Trezeguet saga – Juventus striker David Trezeguet was the second-leading scorer in the Italian league this season with 20 goals. He's also the third-leading scorer in the history of the French national team, but Domenech did not pick him for Euro because of an ongoing dispute between the two. Domenech has been criticized for not selecting one of France's best players and is being second-guessed by the French media and fans, causing a major distraction for his team.
Top players not producing – Some of France's key players are coming off injury-riddled or unproductive seasons. Barcelona forward Thierry Henry looked far from his best, Patrick Vieira (Inter Milan) missed a lot of time with injuries, and defenders Lilian Thuram (Barcelona) and Florent Malouda (Chelsea) were in and out of the starting lineup for their clubs. Veteran defender Will Sagnol (Bayern Munich) and Lyon goalkeeper Gregory Coupet were also bothered by injuries.
Players to watch
Eric Abidal – He may not be as experienced as his defensive counterparts on the national team, but Abidal is a world-class defender. The Barcelona left fullback infuriates opposing players with his relentless pursuit and immaculate tackling ability. He's also quick thinking and very comfortable with the ball at his feet, allowing him to play himself out of danger.
Karim Benzema – In Benzema, France has one of the most explosive young forwards in the game. The 20-year-old star is coming off a dream season in which he led the French league in scoring and he played a pivotal role in helping Lyon win a seventh consecutive championship. With explosive speed and acceleration, and a natural goal scorer's instinct, Benzema promises to be the breakout star of the tournament.
Franck Ribery – The former Marseille star shot to fame at the 2006 World Cup and has established himself as France's best player ever since. The Bayern Munich playmaker orchestrates the French attack with his speed, silky smooth dribbling skills and his visionary passing ability. He's also a dangerous scoring threat.
Key injuries/sqaud omissions: Aside from passing over David Trezeguet, coach Raymond Domenech curiously did not select Mathieu Famini (Arsenal) and defender Philippe Mexes (AS Roma), both of whom were coming off stellar seasons with their clubs. Also passed over by Domenech were veteran Djibril Cisse, Lyon forward Hatem Ben Afra, Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Mickael Landreau, Sevilla defender Julien Escude, Arsenal defender Bakary Sagna, and Bordeaux defensive midfielder Alou Diarra.
Road to Euro 2008
1st round matches:
June 9 vs. Romania (Zurich)
June 13 vs. Netherlands (Berne)
June 17 vs. Italy (Zurich)
Euro 2008 qualification route
Finished second in qualifying Group 2 (26 points) behind of first-place Italy (29 points).
Record in qualifying: 8 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses
Goals for: 25
Goals against: 5
Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Thierry Henry (6)
09.02.2006: France 3 - Georgia 0
09.06.2006: France 3 - Italy 1
10.07.2006: France 0 - Scotland 1
10.11.2006: France 5 – Faroe Islands 0
03.24.2007: France 1 – Lithuania 0
06.02.2007: France 2 – Ukraine 0
06.06.2007: France 1 – Georgia 0
09.08.2007: France 0 – Italy 0
09.12.2007: France 0 – Scotland 1
10.13.2007: France 6 – Faroe Islands 1
10.17.2007: France 2 – Lithuania 0
11.21.2007: France 2 – Ukraine 2
Number of Previous Euro Appearances: 6
All-time record: 25 GP - 14 W, 6 T, 5 L
Goals for: 42
Goals against: 28
Most goals: Michel Platini (9)
Most appearances: Lilian Thuram and Zinedine Zidane (14)
Biggest win: 5-0 vs. Belgium in 1984
Biggest loss: 0-2 vs. Czechoslovakia in 1960
1960 - semifinals
1964 to 1980 – did not qualify
1984 - CHAMPIONS
1988 - did not qualify
1992 - first round
1996 - semifinals
2000 - CHAMPIONS
2004 - quarter-finals
Legends from the past
Michel Platini: A veteran of three World Cups (1978, 1982, 1986), Platini ranks among the greatest players of all time. The elegant Frenchman was a brilliant playmaker in midfield who anchored France's national side for years, and led them to victory in the 1984 European Championship. He's the only player to be voted European player of the year three times in a row (1983-85). Helped Juventus win the European Cup in 1985.
Zinedine Zidane: The second coming of Michel Platini, Zidane was a brilliant midfield maestro who led France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Affectionately known as "Zizou," Zidane is considered the greatest player of his era, having won the FIFA world player of the year three times (1998, 2000 and 2003) and the Ballon d'Or in 1998. He won the Champions League in 2003 with Real Madrid, who paid Italian club Juventus a world transfer fee record of $71.5 million in 2001.