With qualification to Brazil narrowly secured via a play-off win over Ukraine, Hugh Wilson takes a look at Les Bleus chances to win their first World Cup since 1998France come into the World Cup after a sensational comeback saw them qualify in the play-offs against Ukraine. At one point they looked dead and buried in the tie, but after finding a way to Brazil, William Hill now price them at 20/1 (21.00), making Didier Deschamps' men sixth favourites to lift the trophy.
Despite winning five of their eight qualification matches and losing only once, Les Bleus needed the play-offs to secure their spot in Brazil.
This was down to the fact world and European Champions Spain were also in Group I, with the two nations running away in qualification. Finland offered the biggest resistance of the rest of the competing nations, but with only two wins from their eight matches, they were never going to put too much pressure on France and Spain.
Didier Deschamps has caused a stir with his squad selection, with Manchester City's Samir Nasri being omitted. The 26-year-old played a huge part in City's Premier League-winning side, but Deschamps says the attitude of the midfielder is not what he is looking for.
Away from the Nasri saga, only 11 players who played in Euro 2012 have been included, with the likes of Bacary Sagna, Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye and Franck Ribery all being selected for Brazil.
With Karim Benzema, Loic Remy and Antoine Griezmann joining Ribery and Giroud in the attacking department, the French come into this tournament with a strong force up front. They are priced at even money (2.00) to score over 6.5 goals in the World Cup, which chould be of interest given who they will face in the early stages.
Looking at their group, they have been handed one of the most favourable draws of the elite nations, with Deschamps' men having to face Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras. Unsurprisingly, they are priced at 3/4 (1.75) to win the group and William Hill price them at 6/5 (2.20) to pick up over 6.5 points in their group.
Despite a solid qualifying campaign, the French were almost on the end of a huge upset when they faced Ukraine in the play-offs, and were maybe slightly fortunate to come back to win the tie with a few questionable offside decisions leading to French goals. With qualification now over, though, they can put that horror night in Ukraine behind them and concentrate on the finals, with a place in the later stages very possible.
If they were to win their group, with many predicting that they do so, the French side would be likely to face either Bosnia & Herzegovina or Nigeria, with Deschamps' side surely fancying their chances against either of those nations. Les Bleus are priced at 21/20 (2.05) to reach at least the quarter-finals, which looks to be a solid wager given the amount of quality in their squad and potential route to the later stages of the tournament.
|France's World Cup Squad - 20/1 with William Hill|
|Hugo Lloris||Mathieu Debuchy||Yohan Cabaye||Karim Benzema|
|Steve Mandanda||Lucas Digne||Clement Grenier||Olivier Giroud|
|Mickael Landreau||Patrice Evra||Blaise Matuidi||Antoine Griezmann|
|Laurent Koscielny||Rio Mavuba||Loïc Remy|
|Eliaquim Mangala||Paul Pogba||Franck Ribery|
|Bacary Sagna||Moussa Sissoko|
|Mamadou Sakho||Mathieu Valbuena|