France, the host country have one of the strongest squads on paper going into the tournament. More importantly all of their key players have had good seasons with their respective clubs. Coach Didier Deschamps has a few difficult decisions to make, especially in midfield and in attack with a host of talented and in-form players available for selection.
— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) May 12, 2016
Like other host countries, the biggest problem for France, leading upto this tournament has been the lack of competitive matches since the 2014 World Cup. Since the World Cup, France has played most of it’s friendlies with a 4-2-3-1 formation, but at times the 4-3-3 also has been tried. They have had a few setbacks in those friendlies, especially the 1-0 loss against Albania.
Deschamps seems to be set on using a 4-2-3-1 formation for the Euros like many International coaches at the moment. But without Paul Pogba in some of the friendlies, the French coach had opted to play with the 4-3-3 formation. With Kante, Pogba and Matuidi most likely the three midfielders to be selected in the first game of the tournament, 4-3-3 maybe more suited than the 4-2-3-1.
The 4-3-3 allows France fluidity and interchangeability among the three midfielder who have an amazing blend of pace,power, energy and athleticism which allow them to operate in various roles. Against smaller teams, Kante and Matuidi can play as the double pivot allowing Pogba to be closer to the goal in a formation which is changes to a 4-2-3-1 in possession. But in the knockout stages and against tougher oppositions, playing Pogba as the pivot is more advantageous. It allows Pogba, the most creative player among the three, more time and space. Also, both Kante and Matuidi are more effective in pressing and the latter’s pacy runs are a threat on the counter. We will get a clearer idea of France’s midfield from the friendlies before the tournament but there is no doubt that in these three players they have an unique blend of physical and technical presence in the center of the park.
Probably France’s weakest area on the pitch, the defence will see old timers Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna as the full backs. Laurent Koscielny and Raphael Varane will be starting center backs and France captain Hugo Lloris will be the home nation’s last line of defence. The defence will look to pass the ball quickly to the midfield as both Varane and Koscielny are not great with the ball. Against teams that press high, this will be a problem for France as they will struggle to build from the back. The fullbacks will not push on initially much as both of them are susceptible to pace in behind them. But when France require a goal, both Evra and Sagna will be handy in the final third.
Deschamps has a lot of decisions to make regarding the composition of his front three. Going by form, Griezmann, Payet and Martial should make the cut. But Deschamps will certainly think about playing Olivier Giroud as the target man so that France will have different options while trying to break down teams. Again this will mean that France don’t have a team set in stone like most of the top international teams do, but can change according to game and the opposition. But international coaches have proven to be very stubborn and inflexible compared to their club counterparts and we might see Deschamps settling on a team initially and playing the same one till it fails.