Euro 2016 Team Guide: France seek to make most of home comforts

France - Cropped
Much will be expected of Didier Deschamps' squad at this summer's European Championships as the tournament hosts aim to live up to their billing as title favourites

Coach: Didier Deschamps

Key player: Paul Pogba

Qualifying form: N/A

Top scorers in qualifying: N/A

France have had the luxury of not being required to qualify for Euro 2016 and have instead used the past two years to maximise their preparation for the showpiece on home soil.

They crashed out in the quarter-finals at the 2014 World Cup, but friendly wins over Spain, PortugalGermany and Netherlands over the past 20 months suggest Didier Deschamps’ men may be ready to live up to their tag as one of the favourites at this year's finals.

It has not all been good news for Deschamps, though. 

The controversy surrounding Karim Benzema has been an unwelcome distraction, with the Real Madrid attacker missing the tournament after being suspended by the French Football Federation. He was stood down from national team duty upon being charged with complicity in an attempt to blackmail and participating in a criminal conspiracy following an investigation into an alleged sex-tape plot involving international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho is another absentee after Deschamps decided to leave him out of his squad when UEFA opened an investigation for a doping violation, while Raphael Varane and Jeremy Mathieu were forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury​.

Those problems aside, France still have plenty of reasons for optimism - and home advantage is most certainly one of them.

They last hosted the European Championships in 1984, when Michel Platini inspired them to the title, while they also emerged victorious when organising the World Cup in 1998 - Zinedine Zidane being the hero that time.

They will be looking to make the most of home support once again, but much will depend on the form of Paul Pogba.

The 23-year-old has developed into one of the best midfielders in the game and has played a major role in JuventusSerie A dominance over the past five seasons. He impressed at the World Cup in Brazil and will be desperate to guide Les Bleus to glory in front of their own fans.

Pogba is by no means France's only high-profile name, however.

Tottenham's Hugo Lloris has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League this campaign and has proven to be a reliable option between the sticks.

Arsenal centre-back Laurent Koscielny and Juventus left-back Patrice Evra, meanwhile, have plenty of experience at the highest level, while Adil Rami enjoyed a successful season with Sevilla.

Higher up the pitch, Paris Saint-Germain star Blaise Matuidi has proven to be more than capable of holding his own alongside Pogba in midfield.

And even without Benzema, Deschamps still has plenty of firepower in his squad - Antoine Griezmann was key to Atletico Madrid's strong 2015-16 campaign, which culminated with a Champions League final appearance, while Anthony Martial was a rare bright light at Manchester United and Kingsley Coman enjoyed a breakthrough year at Bayern Munich.

France, therefore, seem well placed to challenge holders Spain, world champions Germany and the other favourites for European glory.

Romania, Switzerland and Albania await in Group A and Deschamps' men will be expected to make it to the knockout stages.

From there, with the home fans behind them, they could take some stopping.