World Cup preview, Group E: France 4 years ago

World Cup preview, Group E: France

Les Bleus go into the tournament seemingly in better shape than they have been in years.

Top Man

Karim Benzema. The 26-year-old Real Madrid striker has had his detractors over the years but on his day he is one of the deadliest strikers in world football. The former Lyon striker has had his barren spells – he went 16 months without scoring a goal for his country – but he is currently in fine form.

Flanked by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale he managed 26 goals in the season just finished, and he’ll have good back up at the finals in the likes of Mathieu Valbuena, Loic Remy and Paul Pogba.

Unfortunately for Benzema, at the time of writing it looked highly unlikely that Franck Ribery would make the finals as he suffered from a back injury.

Rising star

Antoine Griezmann of Real Sociedad, we like you very very much.

http://youtu.be/PfYjO43zT6M

The 23-year-old attacker (he’s nominally a winger but can play up front too) has scored 49 goals in 179 appearances for the Spanish team and has been linked with some of the biggest clubs on the continent.

Not a guaranteed starter for Didier Deschamps’ side but he’s the kind of explosive player that could take the tournament by storm if given the chance.

Did you know?

Lilian Thuram still holds the record for the most French international caps, with 142. Thierry Henry is the top scorer with 51.

Reasons for Irish fans to support them

There are none. We’re still not over it.

If they were a TV series

We’re going to bend the rules here and go for ‘Boogie Nights’ – made their name with World Cup and European Championship wins, fell from grace spectacularly, now wiser if not older and looking to right the wrongs of the past.

It’s got Dirk Diggler written all over it.

("Just pick a F*****G TV SERIES!" – Ed.)

OK, if we HAVE to, we’re going for Baywatch. They often look good while lacking any real substance to back it up.

Prediction

They’ll get out of the group, and go further if they stay united.

Odds with Ladbrokes: 25/1

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