France have the chance to establish a new footballing dynasty with Euro 2016 victory
The 2016 UEFA European Championship will get underway when hosts France face Romania at Stade de France on Friday.
Didier Deschamps’ men are among the hot favourites to win this summer’s title and a quick look through Les Bleus’ squad illustrates why they are fancied by so many to claim their third continental crown on home soil.
The current French crop boasts the likes of Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, Juventus’ Paul Pogba, Paris Saint-Germain’s Blaise Matuidi, Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet and Tottenham Hotspur’s Hugo Lloris.
Deschamps’ group looks extremely balanced on paper. Added to the fact that they have been handed a favourable draw in Group A, France have the potential to go far in their own backyard.
The 47-year-old tactician’s squad already looks formidable but when you consider that Real Madrid pair Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane, Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho, Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma, Olympique Lyonnais duo Alexandre Lacazette and Nabil Fekir, as well as OGC Nice’s Hatem Ben Arfa are all missing, the hosts could be more formidable than they already are.
The crazy thing is that Les Bleus’ well of talent does not run dry there. In fact, if anything, that is only scratching the surface.
PSG pair Alphonse Areola and Adrien Rabiot, not to mention Borussia Dortmund’s teenage sensation Ousmane Dembele, Athletic Club’s Aymeric Laporte and Lyon’s Samuel Umtiti (who is actually in Deschamps’ Euro squad), are yet to make their senior debuts for the French senior side.
The likes of Inter Milan’s Geoffrey Kondogbia and Stade Rennais’ Paul-Georges Ntep only have a few caps to their name and the under-21 side is loaded with talents capable of making the step up to senior level in the near future.
France has an opportunity with this summer’s European Championship to establish a footballing dynasty that could last for many years.
If the hosts can hoist the Henri Delaunay trophy at Stade de France next month, there is a very good chance that we could see the same thing happen in Russia at Luzhniki Stadium in 2018, in England at Wembley in 2020 and perhaps even in Qatar at Lusail Iconic Stadium in 2022.
The likes of Griezmann, Pogba, Martial and Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman all should have at least three more major international tournaments left in them after Euro 2016, arguably more for the latter trio.
With so many top talents on the fringes of Deschamps’ squad or yet to be integrated into the senior setup at all, it is easy to see Les Bleus becoming the world and European order sometime in the next few years.
Germany may well win this summer’s tournament and add the European title to their world crown but France are the most likely side to wrest it away from them in the coming years, should that happen.
What Deschamps’ team needs now is experience; the experience of playing in big international tournaments like the Euro and the experience of going on deep run to the latter stages and possibly all the way.
Once the key younger members of this group have tasted that, the seed for future success will have been sown. All that will be left to do then is for Deschamps, or a similar figure, to harvest the glory that many of these phenomenally talented players are destined for.
The FIFA under-20 World Cup success of 2013, featuring the likes of Pogba, Zouma, Areola, Umtiti, Kondogbia and Lucas Digne was a taste of what should lie ahead of many members of this emerging generation of talent.
What France need now is for some of those players to acquire the necessary experience so that the next wave of gifted footballers can be brought into the senior setup. Once that happens, once Les Bleus enjoy that initial success, they should become a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Even if ultimate success does not await the French at Stade de France in July, it surely will not elude them for much longer. One thing is for sure, the future is bright and the future is Bleu.
About the author – Jonathan Johnson
Ligue 1 and French football journalist. Covering PSG in English. Work is published regularly on @EPSNFC,@br_uk, @YahooSportUK and @beINSPORTUSA.