After struggling to qualify for Brazil 2014, France have surprised many with their displays over the Summer. With a solid defence, dynamic midfield, and a deadly Striker in Karim Benzema, are they the team to go all the way this year?
Of the rest of the teams left in the Quarter-finals, only Colombia have been more convincing over the course of the World Cup. However, Colombia have been dealt an arguably more difficult draw, as they would have to beat Brazil, a side who have not shone, but done enough to progress in cagey affairs against well organised sides. While Colombia have had a good defensive record, they have struggled against sides when they have come under pressure, and were lucky to beat the Ivory Coast in the Group Stage, as well as stuttering towards the end of their game against Uruguay. Neymar, one of the best players in the World Cup so far, could be the one to punish any mistakes from the Colombian defence.
France have a relatively easier draw, as they have drawn Germany. The French will fancy their chances against an unconvincing German side, who since their demolition of a 10-man Portugal, have stuttered in their following games. An uncertain defensive performance against Algeria will give the French hope of getting in behind their centre backs and exploiting their lack of pace.
France’s strengths during this World Cup have revolved around a solid defence. They have one of the best Goalkeeper’s in the World in Hugo Lloris, as well as a strong leader in Mahamadou Sakho. Raphael Varane has the potential to be the best defender in the world, while Mathieu Debuchy has added pace down the flanks at Full Back.
Antoine Griezmann has been one of the young players of the Tournament so far. His sensible passing mixed with attacking flair has seen him become a danger to defences, as well as a competent midfield player. His tracking back can also not be underestimated, as he has helped cover full backs while they run forward. Paul Pogba’s goal against Nigeria was crucial in taking France to the Quarter-Finals, while Yoann Cabaye has been a solid line of defence in the midfield, and is also a threat when it comes to long range shots and free kicks. Mathieu Valbuena has also forged a good partnership in the middle with Cabaye.
The one area where France may fall short is up front. Although Karim Benzema has had a productive tournament, he is their only world class option in the centre forward role. Olivier Giroud has struggled to find form for Les Bleus, and Loic Remy has not made a significant impact either. Should Benzema not perform or pick up an injury, the French may cone unstuck. However, with the help of their solid defence, this may not be the case.
Didier Deschamps has provided the French with their best chance of winning the World Cup since the days of Zidane. A win against Germany, and France may well prove to be World Cup Champions in Brazil.