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France have some top stars in their squad - Benzema, Ribery, Nasri, Cabaye and Evra. But can the controversial outfit gel and bring the glory years back to Les Bleus?

The French team are on a roll with numerous wins under their belt. As a result of having the sort of leader who imbues his charges with confidence, Les blues managed 21 points after 6 wins and 3 draws from 10 games in qualifying and international friendly wins over England and Germany have the optimists suggesting that this side can steam-roll their way to the trophy in Poland and Ukraine. The 2-0 qualifying win at home to Romania in October 2010 was a case in point, Blanc turning a stalemate into an eleventh-hour victory with the late introduction of three energetic new faces (striker Loic Remy, creative midfielder Yoann Gourcuff and winger Dimitri Payet). Blanc went bold and reaped the benefits.

They qualified fairly calmly for Euro 2012 and are unbeaten in 21 games. Debuchy can be the big surprise from France. He is a brilliant counter-attacking player and a wonderful crosser of the ball. Goal.com analyses their chances at the tournament..

FORMATIONS AND TACTICS

HOW FRANCE DEFEND


Blanc has five basic demands - a solid back-four, technical polish, the domination of possession, keeping the ball on the ground and playing in the opposition half as much as possible. He believes, as do so many others, that games are won and lost in midfield and this is the reason why he refuses to use a 4-4-2, arguing that the extra forward inevitably results in an insufficient number of bodies in the engine room.

The full-backs should be Patrice Evra on the left (who is likely to start with Eric Abidal absent following his liver transplant) and, probably, Mathieu Debuchy on the right. Evra and Debuchy also offer the attacking contribution that Blanc seems to like so much, whereas Sagna is often criticised for the quality of his crossing. France's excellent all-round performance in their 2-1 friendly win over England at Wembley in November 2010 is what they hope to revisit this summer; an effective high pressing game, great movement, rapid-fire passing and lots of changes in attacking rhythm.

HOW FRANCE ATTACK


The France of 1998 played a highly-intelligent counter-attacking style. Laurent Blanc believes in keeping possession and playing in the opposition's half. Staying compact, the new look France can unleash lightning-fast on the break also. The coach likes to begin the attack from defense and most of them kick-start thanks to the work the of adventurous new right-back Mathieu Debuchy of Lille.  In an effort to dominate possession, France plays slightly higher up the pitch than usual to smother the opposition. Against Iceland, Laurent Blanc opted for three attacking midfielders in Cabaye, Nasri and Gourcuff and while that seemed like a very creative combination, they struggled because of the lack of balance.

Yann M'Vila, an Arsenal target, has adapted into the 'Vieira role' in the national team. He can play in a more adventurous role and has splendid ease on the ball. Blanc might be leaning towards a possession-based game but it has to be played in a pragmatic and cautious way. The distribution of Yann M'Vila and dynamism of Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye can be perfectly exploited by the stars playing just ahead of them - Nasri, Benzema and Ribery.

SWOT ANALYSIS

Strengths - Les Bleus could be a dark horse to thrive at Euro 2012. Much will depend on how well their trident of tricky attacking midfielders support lone striker Karim Benzema. Another key is the efficiency of the two nominally defensive midfielders, the vision and distribution of Yann M'Vila and dynamism of Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye.

Weaknesses - Evra has had a terrible season with Manchester United where he has been found wanting defensively on several occasions. Mexes too hasn't impressed at Milan and these two do remain defensive liabilities for Blanc.

Opportunities - Tall, powerful and technically-gifted Olivier Giroud is highly rated and comes under the €16m bracket and may be worth even more after these championships. While he may be seen as the wild card on the bench, Giroud could be a match winner when it matters most.

Threats - Samir Nasri and Blanc are rumoured not to get on; Franck Ribery tends to blow hot and cold for the national team; while Newcastle star Hatem Ben Arfa has little full international experience to call.

COACH IN QUOTES

“When I first started as national team coach, I told the players a few of my principles: I like passing the ball around and I like to keep the ball. I like it when the ball is played out from the back – and I also like my teams to be efficient.”

- Laurent Blanc

THE VERDICT

France are in red-hot form at the moment. If their unbeaten run continues, they are surely one of the tournament favourites. Without any controversies, this group of talented players can go onto lift the trophy as well. Easily, the strongest team in Group D.

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